San Francisco 49ers: 10 Early Predictions for 2016 Regular Season
Special Teams MVP: Phil Dawson
The Niners have relied way too much on their kicker in recent seasons. We as fans have been groaning about the number of field goals this team makes, versus the lack of touchdowns scored. It is not Dawson’s fault he kicks so many FGs. It is what he is paid to do.
Dawson made 24 of 27 FGs in 2015 (88.9 percent success rate) and only missed one PAT (which was blocked). All of this at age 40.
Now 41, Dawson recently signed a 1-year contract extension. It would be great if he didn’t have to earn his money in 2016. The offense sputtered so badly in 2015 with a measly 14.9 points per game average. Dawson kicked his FGs, but there is a reason they are only worth three points.
Until the Niners offense can show they can move the ball down the field regularly and score TDs, Dawson will still get plenty of opportunities to kick FGs.
David Fucillo of Niners Nation also believes that with the new kickoff rule, Dawson may be brought back to do kickoffs, where kicking short of the end zone may be a bigger benefit in 2016, rather than giving the opposition the free pass to the 25-yard line:
"A new rule has touchbacks on kickoffs coming out to the 25 instead of the 20. There are some kickers who think the rule could incentivize teams kicking short of the goal line, forcing players to bring the ball out. Bradley Pinion eventually took over kickoff duties last season, but with shorter kickoffs potentially being worth considering, it could impact that role."
Dawson will do his job in 2016, making him the clear choice for special teams MVP. However, for the team to be more successful, he needs to be kicking more extra points than FGs.
Next: Most Improved Player: Tank Carradine