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Kicker Phil Dawson proved to be an invaluable piece to the 49ers’ future last season after signing a one-year deal.
Dawson made 32 field goals, including a club record of 27 in a row. He did not miss any of his seven field-goal attempts in the playoffs, including a 33-yarder as time expired to beat the Green Bay Packers at frigid Lambeau Field in the postseason opener.
And when the 49ers signed him to a two-year, $6.134 million contract at the start of free agency, it erased any need the 49ers might have to look for a kicker in the draft. There are zero needs at punter and long-snapper, too.
But a return specialist is an area where the 49ers might look to invest.
Who's here: K Phil Dawson, P Andy Lee, LS Kevin McDermott, P Colton Schmidt, RS LaMichael James, RS Devon Wylie
Draft needs: James took over the return duties after Kyle Williams was re-diagnosed with a case of the yips. James would love to move on from the 49ers for an opportunity as a running back elsewhere. One NFL scout told CSNBayArea.com that Wylie is a legitimate option as a return man.
Dawson and Lee are proven commodities. And McDermott deserves a lot of credit for being the forgotten man in his rookie season. When the 49ers cut popular veteran Brian Jennings and went with McDermott, it was seen as a risky move. After all, Jennings was perfect in his 13 seasons with the 49ers. But McDermott was on the mark after being acquired as an undrafted free agent.
Good fits: When it comes to kicker, punt and long-snapper, move along. There’s nothing to see here. But when the topic moves toward punt returns, yes, the 49ers should be in the market to increase the competition. If the 49ers trade up to select LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham in the first round, he should take over from Day 1. He is sure-handed as return man. Jared Abbedreris (Wisconsin) and diminutive Jalen Saunders (Oklahoma) have vast experience handling punts and could be options later in the draft.