Cortez Eyes Improvement Against Former Team

IRVING, TX. - Many players relish the opportunity to play against their former teams, because of the chance to enjoy some success against the teams that let them move on.

One player who will have such a chance this week is Dallas kicker Jose Cortez, who kicked for the San Francisco 49ers in 2001 and 2002 (with a brief stint in between with the Washington Redskins). Cortez will visit his old stomping grounds Sunday when the Cowboys visit the 49ers at Monster Park (which football fans who remember the days before corporate sponsorship still think of as Candlestick Park).

Cortez connected on 36 of 49 field goal attempts (73.4 percent) in his two stints with the Niners — numbers that might have been skewed slightly because of the winds for which the stadium by the bay is so well known. Cortez said the wind makes Monster Park one of the two most difficult venues in the NFL, along with Chicago's Soldier Field.

Head coach Bill Parcells said Cortez will be the Cowboys' kicker Sunday in San Francisco, but it's clear that he wants better performance from Cortez.

"We're what … two for three this season?" Parcells asked. "I want a kicker who hits 85 percent. If he goes two for three, two for three, two for three … I'm going to change the kicker. If he does that (hits two-thirds of his kicks), that leaves you at the bottom of the pack. If he hits 85 percent, that's only in the middle, nowadays."

In a way, Cortez said, he hopes he doesn't make many field goals this season.

"I'd rather have six, or seven points than three, of course," he said. "If I'm not getting too many field goals, that means the offense is scoring touchdowns."

The winds that famously roll into Monster Park off the bay are tough to deal with, Cortez said, but not impossible to deal with.

"If I hit it good, and the rotation (of the ball) is good, that's all I worry about -- the ball will carry," he said. "From 30 yards and in, the ball should go right down the middle."

Beyond the 30-yard mark, he said, kicks require extra preparation.

"I look at the wind before the game, and try to figure out what direction it's blowing," he said. "I talk to the holder, and have him lean the ball away from him a little or toward him a little. Sometimes, if the wind is blowing hard from the side, you aim a little to the right and hope that wind carries it back down the middle."

Cortez said he doesn't look at Sunday's game as an option for revenge against his former team.

"I look at it like 'I've been there, I know what it's like to play there,'" he said. "That place makes kickers better. You have a lot of guys who played there -- like Jeff Wilkins, with the Rams -- who played in San Francisco and went on to play great with another team. A lot of great kickers have gone through San Francisco and had great careers.

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