To describe David Akers’ 2012 season and playoffs for the 49ers as up-and-down would be an understatement. Heading into this season, Akers had made 82.2% of his field goal attempts in his career. Pinpointing the reasons for his inaccuracy is not easy, but what it likely comes down is not his leg, but his head.
After making just 64% of his kicks since Week 2, the 49ers brought in Billy Cundiff during their bye week in the postseason to compete and to scare Akers into playing better. Things were looking up for Akers in the Divisional Round Game against the Green Bay Packers making his only field goal attempt, a 36-yarder. But against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game, he missed a crucial 36-yard field goal that hit off the left upright and would have tied the game in the third quarter. At the time, San Francisco was down 24-21 and the Niners defense had picked off Matt Ryan on the previous series.
Looking back at Akers’ recent missed field goal attempts, a good amount have missed to the left. Of his last eight missed kicks, not counting ones blocked, seven have been off to the left. One explanation for this is that Akers is left footed. This is also likely the reason for his kicking woes being in his head because he is hesitant and wants to make sure he makes the field goal. In other words, he is trying too hard to make a field goal and is not going off instinct.
The issue with Akers started back in February when he had a double sports-hernia surgery and it flared up again as recently as November. After the game against the New Orleans Saints he was on the 49ers injury report for each game until the end of the season. It seems he is fully healed from the injury, but there is no doubt it is still affecting him mentally.
This week head coach Jim Harbaugh said Akers will be the 49ers kicker in the Super Bowl. I agree with that decision because there are not any better options to replace him. Although that doesn’t guarantee Akers will get any opportunities in the Super Bowl to make a field goal attempt.
Akers on his field goal miss in the NFC Championship Game:
It’s a game of inches, one way or the other…I struck the ball well, and it clangs on top of the goal post. If you figure that one out, let me know.