SANTA CLARA – Phil Dawson was interviewed next to his locker Tuesday afternoon. Here’s a transcript.
DAWSON: I missed some kicks, albeit in a new environment. At this point, any ball that’s in the air is helpful, just getting to watch it, trying to figure it out. Obviously have a long way to go figuring out where to aim. That’s what preseason is for.
Q: Is that what the issue was, figuring out where to aim? Or did you miss kick them?
DAWSON: Every kick requires aiming correctly and then executing correctly. There was a little bit of both going on on those. I didn’t kick them as well as I would have liked to but I didn’t feel like I completely miss-hit the ball, either. Kicked pretty solidly in pregame. Felt like I had a good plan for what to do, the flags and the whole deal. And then I get in the game expecting everything to go right to left, aim a little right and it went right. You can’t aim right and have it go right – note to self. I’ll be back in there today trying to gather more information.
Q: Is it good to play 1:00 games in the preseason because that’s when you’ll be playing in the regular season?
DAWSON: That’s definitely an advantage, and obviously having the stadium right next door, being able to get in there. I still have a couple of more weeks. Honestly, I don’t know that I’m going to have that place figured out any time soon. The best you can do is show up on those game days and figure out a way to get them through. Like I said, a lot of information was gathered Sunday in a painful. I would have enjoyed to learn differently but I’ll take every kick I can get in there.
Q: Are the elements different than what you expected? Are the winds stronger?
DAWSON: The interesting part is the flags don’t really tell the whole story. The flags up top are always the same. The flags on the uprights are constantly changing. One thing we’re going to run in around here is your pregame warm up, we come out around 11:30 and the wind really hasn’t picked up. Anyone who lives around here knows the wind starts generally around 1:00. What you learn in pregame may not necessarily help you at all once the game starts. Every opportunity I can get during the week to get out there at game time and gather information then, that’s going to be valuable.
Q: Sounds a little like Candlestick.
DAWSON: Yeah. You know, I got off to a slow start there too and then kind of halfway got confident in what I was doing there, so I expect the same to happen here.
Q: How many times have you been in Levi’s stadium kicking?
DAWSON: I’ve only kicked about four times in there so I’ve still got a long ways to go. It only took me about 10 years to get comfortable in Cleveland so we’ll see how long it takes here.
Q: How many times did you go up to Candlestick and kick throughout the season last year?
DAWSON: During the season, zero. It was just offseason work. The thing I had working for me last year was Andy had a nine-year working knowledge of the place. We’re all in foreign territory here and learning as we go. There were a lot of new experiences, not just wind but the footing on the field, the first time the big boys had been out there trudging around and seeing how the field held up and what kind of shoe to wear. There was just a whole lot of stuff going on all at once. Obviously would have liked to have handled it better. Didn’t. Fortunately get another opportunity this week.
Q: How did the grass hold up?
DAWSON: It’s a beautiful field for a first-year field. Those guys are working their brains out to get that thing ready. I think just in time we’re going to figure out what we need to do to have that down.
Q: Eric Reid said the roots haven’t really taken hold and the grass comes up easily. Does that affect you?
DAWSON: Yeah, if you’re technique requires a six-inch step and you’re six-inch step goes in a divot or something like that it can affect things. That’s not unique to the fields we play on. I have a pretty good experience playing on fields that are less than ideal, so I’ll just draw on those experiences and see what I can do here.
Q: Do you have a schedule for how many times you’ll be able to go in there during the season?
DAWSON: Don’t have a schedule but I’m going to try as much as I can.
Q: Will this require any more weather apps?
DAWSON: You know what, we’ll see. Right now, what means what, really don’t know. Just going to require more and more balls getting in the air to figure out what they do. I watched the film of every punt, every kickoff, and there were 15-yard differences in distances on kickoffs. If one went a little bit here, it went deep. If one went here, it went short. Some curved to the left. Some curved to the right. And all of the flags are doing the same thing. So go figure. How do you make sense of that? I’m going to have to put on my investigative hat, see if I can’t figure out some clues and have a better plan going into the regular season.
Q: Was the field dry?
DAWSON: The field was moving around pretty good. Most first year fields, the roots haven’t had a chance to settle in. But it’s beautiful. It’s awesome. It’s not tearing apart, it’s just vertical. People with green thumbs know that when you put a yard in your front yard it takes a while for that thing to settle in.
Q: You said you had a good warm up.
DAWSON: I missed one kick in pregame out of about 50. I kick a lot.
Q: You missed from what distance?
DAWSON: It was the shortest one I tried. I tried about a 30 yarder from the right hash and it hit the left upright. Everything was going right to left pregame. That’s why I was aiming a little right during the game. Instead of coming back it went the other way.
Q: You made kicks from how far out?
DAWSON: 58 both ways.
Q: What do you think of the longer extra point? You haven’t done one yet, but what’s your feeling on it?
DAWSON: There were a few more misses. I was thinking about it in the second half of our game. It could rear its head in game where the kicker hasn’t been on the field in the while, it’s hard to stay loose, and then all of a sudden there’s a score, maybe a fumble recovery or a kickoff return or an interception return and you might not be super loose. It’s one thing to go out there and pop through a 20-yarder. You back up 13, 15 yards and you’re a little stiff, you could possibly run into some problems there.