SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — Reflecting the rough season the San Francisco 49ers had in 2015, veteran kicker Phil Dawson was announced as the team’s most valuable player.

Following a season that saw the 49ers plunge from relevancy and finish with a 5-11 record, the 40-year-old Dawson received the Bill Walsh Award Thursday, given annually to honor the team MVP as voted on by the coaches. The Len Eshmont Award – voted on by players and given to the player who best exemplifies “inspirational and courageous play” – went to wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

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As is usually the case with NFL kickers, Dawson was by far the 49ers leading scorer in 2015, with 21 extra points and 24 field goals made, for a total of 92 points scored. The second-most leading scorer on the team was wide receiver Torrey Smith with 26 points (4 touchdowns, one 2-point conversion).

Dawson previously played for the Cleveland Browns from 1999 to 2012 and holds the Browns’ record for most field goals.

Any award with Bill Walsh’s name attached to it is a big deal,” Dawson said in a statement. “In my three years in San Francisco, I’ve grown to learn even more about coach Walsh and respect him all the more. So, that’s a tremendous honor in and of itself. But, then to consider that the coaches were the ones voting on this, just puts it over the top.

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Dawson also seemed to acknowledge that awarding the MVP to a kicker is somewhat out of the ordinary. “In most places, the kicker is just kind of an afterthought or a necessary evil,” said Dawson. “I’ve always tried to just be a football player and just come to work and do my job. This means quite a bit given the fact that I am a kicker. There are certainly other guys on the team who are deserving and I hold them in high regard. So, when you mix all that together, it’s a pretty special deal.”

The last time a kicker won the 49ers MVP award was in 2005 when Joe Nedney shared the MVP award with linebacker Derek Smith. The team finished the 2005 season – both quarterback Alex Smith and head coach Mike Nolan first seasons with the team – with a 4-12 record.


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Carlos E. Castañeda is Senior Editor, News & Social Media for CBS San Francisco and a San Francisco native. You can follow him on Twitter or send him an email.