Franchise tag isn’t a viable option for 49ers to keep Phil Dawson

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In recent years, more and more teams have used the franchise tag on kickers in punters, in large part because the amount of the franchise tender for specialists remains at or below the market value for high-end kickers.  (In contrast, the market value for most other positions lags behind the tag.)

As a result, the 49ers — whose coach openly has lobbied for kicker Phil Dawson to stay — could be inclined to use the tag.

But there’s a problem.  Because Dawson was tagged twice by the Browns, in 2011 and 2012, the use of the tag by the 49ers in 2014 would count as a third career tag, entitling Dawson to the quarterback franchise tender.

A grievance filed by Saints quarterback Drew Brees in 2012 triggered the ruling that franchise tags stack from team to team.  It helped Brees leverage a better deal from the Saints because he would have been entitled to a 44-percent raise in 2013 over his 2012 tender.  It also helps any player in the future who faces the prospect of a third career tag.

For Dawson, it means 49ers won’t tag him.  Unless they want to pay $16 million next year for a kicker.