SANTA CLARA -- About the only people that understand the life of a kicker in the NFL are other kickers. So, naturally, 49ers kicker Phil Dawson reached out to a sympathetic ear while seeking advice for kicking in Charlotte.
"I called their kicker, Graham Gano," Dawson said of the Carolina Panthers kicker. "Just to get a few ideas. To his credit, he didn't give me a lot of information. So, the gamesmanship has begun."
Dawson is in his 15th NFL season. However, he played only two games against the Panthers on the road — one regular-season game, one exhibition game.
"It's been awhile," Dawson said.
Hence, the phone call to Gano. Despite Dawson's bold attempt to uncover some tips about footing, turf conditions, wind patterns, whatever, he's still got plenty of work to do.
"He pretty much said, 'See you Sunday,' " Dawson said of his brief conversation with Gano. "So, I'll have to do the homework myself."
Dawson converted all three of his field-goal attempts in a 23-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers in an NFC Playoffs wild-card game last Sunday. That came in brutal conditions.
Dawson said he's looking forward to kicking in more favorable conditions Sunday — the forecast calls for 57 degrees, with no chance of rain and slight wind.
"Well, it's a lot different than last week, that's for sure," Dawson said. "Every day has its challenges, so I'll get out there early Sunday and see what's going on for that given game day and come up with a plan."
Part of that plan involves calling other kickers. You can bet Dawson will make more calls between now and Sunday's game, perhaps to long-time Panthers kicker John Kasay, among others.
"I try to get as much information as possible," Dawson said. "I don't have an opponent across the line of scrimmage. The conditions of the day are my opponent. So, anything I can do to study and prepare, I'll take advantage of that."