Peterson persona right fit for 49ers

Todd Peterson brings to the 49ers a few important things they didn't have with Owen Pochman. The most obvious: A veteran kicker who has proven he can come through in the clutch. The less obvious: A kicker who commands respect. Pochman, apparently, didn't have that in all corners of the Niners' locker room. "If you have a kicker who's just walking around here like it's Club Med, and in the hot tub and the cold tub all the time … how can you respect that?" 49ers DE Chidi Ahanotu said Wednesday.

The Niners' first impressions of Peterson after he joined the team Wednesday weren't anything like that.

"I'd never met (Peterson), but I saw him out there, and he had his hat on and he was doing drills by himself, like shuffles and stuff. And I'm like, ‘OK, all right.' And then he comes out there with his shoulder pads on. I've got respect for that. So that shows me a lot about him. And we respect that. I'm already looking at it like he's a football player. I'm on his side."

Pochman – who lost his job with the Niners this week because of what he did on the field, not his habits in the locker room – wasn't winning over all teammates to his side during his six weeks with the team.

"I mean, he's in the hot tub and cold tub more than me," said Ahanotu, referring to Pochman. "And I'm beat up all the time. Now, I don't know nothing about kicking. But in all my years, I've never seen that. Maybe he had an injury. I don't know. It's just something where … if they don't have anything to do anyway, you don't want to stand in the hot tub and cold tub all the time, you don't Jacuzzi. It's like it's Club Med around here. That's just my opinion."

Enter Peterson, who won't be confused with Pochman in that regard.

"I've always tried to view myself – and I was taught this in high school – that I was not a kicker. I was a football player who kicked," Peterson said. "And the more I treated myself like that, carried myself that way, the more respect my teammates had for me. And they saw me in there lifting with them, and running after practice and doing the things that needed to be done. I think that kind of creates a little credibility, and then you go out and make a kick, and they love you."

The Niners have yet to see Peterson make a kick in a game – he was 5-for-5 on field-goal attempts in his first practice with the team Wednesday – but he already is endearing himself to his new teammates with his work ethic and one-of-the-guys mentality.

"I think a kicker who goes in there, and busts his tail in the offseason, and stays around and works hard, and when he misses a kick steps up to the plate and says, ‘I missed a kick. It's my fault,' guys get excited about that. That's what they want," Peterson said.

What the Niners really want – and need – is a kicker who can make field goals and handle the position without the steady stream of gaffes made by Pochman in recent weeks that contributed prominently to San Francisco losses.

Peterson appears to have the right stuff in that department, too. The 10th-year veteran has made 77.8 percent of his 234 career field-goal attempts. That alone should give the Niners more confidence in their new kicker than the man he replaced.

Niners coach Dennis Erickson said Peterson made numerous clutch kicks for the Seahawks when both were together in Seattle from 1995-98. Peterson had has best season in 1999 after Erickson was fired, making 34 of 40 field goals for the Seahawks, and also had solid seasons the next two years in Kansas City. He kicked for Pittsburgh last year before being placed on injured reserve after breaking a rib in November.

"He was very solid for us (in Seattle)," Erickson said. "You weren't on the sidelines wondering whether it was going to happen or not from within 30-35 yards. I have tremendous confidence in him. That's why he's here. I do know one thing, with Todd, if he misses one, he'll come back and kick the next one. He's going to do what it takes to put it in there. He knows what to do. He understands his ability as far as leg strength is concerned as far as kickoffs, as far as putting it up in the air, in the corner. He can do all those things.

"I think probably the biggest thing is that I have confidence in him, so that's the bottom line on Todd being here. If I have confidence in him, then everybody has confidence in him. He's (Peterson) going to miss some, but with Todd it's not a matter of him being here one week and gone the next. He's going to be here."

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