With head coach Jim Harbaugh still undecided on who will be the kicker for the San Francisco 49ers versus Green Bay Packers playoff game on Saturday, the competition is heading to Candlestick Park. The fight for the right to be the 49ers kicker in the NFC Divisional Round game is heating up with only five days left until the game. Harbaugh has not set a timeline in naming who will be kicker in the battle between David Akers and Billy Cundiff.
The 49ers have become jittery over allowing Akers to continue attempting field goals with San Francisco hosting the high-powered Packers offense led by Aaron Rodgers. In the playoffs every point counts and with the way Akers has been missing field goal attempts this season, there is risk continuing with him on Saturday as the kicker. Last week the 49ers signed Cundiff to compete with Akers.
Bringing in an extra kicker to give the 49ers another option in playoffs was a wise move after Akers made just 29 of 42 field-goal attempts in the regular season. It will cause Akers to dig deep to find his rhythm he had last season in which set the NFL record for most points by a kicker in a single season and for most field goals made in a single season, with 44. But this season his missed kicks has caused 49ers fans headaches, like when he missed two overtime kicks against the Rams this season with San Francisco losing at St. Louis and tying at home. In the season finale against Arizona, he missed wide left on kicks from 44 and 40 yards, with the 49ers Faithful in attendance booing him off the field.
Harbaugh has indicated he will likely keep both kickers on the roster to give him options, but it is unclear if both will be on the 46-man active roster for the playoff game on Saturday. Cundiff has not exactly shown to be reliable in the clutch. While with the Ravens last season, he missed a potential tying 32-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the AFC championship game last season against the New England Patriots that sent them to the Super Bowl.
It will be a tough call for Harbaugh because Akers revealed this week he has been dealing with a double sports hernia injury which he suffered in February. I would lean towards going with Akers but his injury might be too much for him to overcome in order to be effective against the Packers. But the concern with Cundiff is the fact that he has not kicked in a game since October 7 and he was released by the Washington Redskins after Week 5 this season. If Akers can show he is healthy enough to make kicks, Harbaugh should go with him. But I doubt Harbaugh will rely on Akers to make kicks of 30 yards or more.
Here are Akers’ thoughts on his injury and possibly being replaced as the kicker, followed by a video of Harbaugh talking about the kicking competition.
Whatever the circumstances, it’s out of my control right now — whatever they decide. Last year, 2012, I started out with a double sports hernia surgery in February. Rehabbed all year, came into training camp and was kicking real well. I had a great preseason I thought, started off my first game kicking with a 50 and a 55-yarder against Houston. I started off the season, obviously, with a magical day in Green Bay. Then, obviously, this has gone into an up-and-down season. I fell out here on the field and it kind of flared up where I had surgery.
Had some injections, the same surgeon. It’s one of those things you need some rest but that’s not the reason. It’s kind of the fundamental of my year. It’s been one of those up-and-down years. I would definitely give that 63-yarder back to make the two kicks against St. Louis. People talk about my demeanor being down, listen, I take my job seriously. I feel when I miss kicks I let the team, the organization, the fans down. I take it personal. I guess sometimes I care too much about it. That’s just kind of who I am.
I have no problem talking to y’all and being real. It’s been disappointing. I’m disappointed in myself. There’s nothing I can really do about it now. I can’t go back in the past. Try today to get better and figure out why they’re not going between the poles. If I had an answer I would have fixed it a long time ago.