Harbaugh on Dawson: 'He's a real football player'
Phil Dawson made his first Pro Bowl last year in his 14th season with the Browns. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
PHOENIX -- Coach Jim Harbaugh is scheduled Wednesday to return from the NFL owners meetings to the Bay Area, where he will meet new 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin and kicker Phil Dawson for dinner.
Boldin has been the marquee 49ers addition of the offseason, acquired in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens for a sixth-round draft pick. But Dawson could be every bit as important.
Harbaugh cited a philosophy espoused by 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
"You want a great defense, a good quarterback or a good defense and a great quarterback," Harbaugh said.
And the third requirement is a good kicker.
"You need those three things to win championships," Harbaugh said.
And what do the 49ers have?
"I think we have all those things," he said. "I really feel good about that formula."
The 49ers believe they have upgraded the team's kicker situation, going from David Akers to Dawson, named to the AFC Pro Bowl team last season in his 14th and final season with the Cleveland Browns.
"He's a real football player," Harbaugh said. "That's a great thing to say about a kicker. He kicks the ball through the uprights in all kinds of situations -- pressure situations, inclement weather situations. Those things stand out the most."
The 49ers recently released Akers, who missed more field goals than anyone in the NFL last season. The 49ers strongly considers Dawson and New York Giants free agent Lawrence Tynes. Ultimately, the 49ers went with Dawson on a one-year contract at the behest of special-teams coordinator Brad Seely, who coached Dawson two seasons in Cleveland.
"Brad Seely deserves a lot of credit for that for pushing that with ownership and management, championing Phil Dawson," Harbaugh said. "He championed Phil Dawson. And that's what you're looking for. You're looking for somebody to stand on the table for somebody and say, 'I believe in this guy.'"
In addition to making 29 of 31 field-goal attempts, Dawson was also instrumental in Cleveland tying for the league lead by allowing the opposition to open drives, on average, at the 19.9-yard line after kickoffs.
Akers' touchback percentage was actually higher than Dawson's (46.5 percent to 40 percent), but Akers' kickoffs were more line drives which enabled better returns. The 49ers ranked 27th in the league, allowing opponents to open at the 23.6-yard line.