Wednesday, April 16, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Harbaugh sticking with Akers as 49ers’ starting kicker

Billy Cundiff, David Akers

San Francisco 49ers place kickers Billy Cundiff, left, and David Akers (2) chat during NFL football practice in Santa Clara, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. The 49ers host the Green Bay Packers in an NFC divisional playoff game on Saturday. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

SANTA CLARA — David Akers is keeping his job as San Francisco’s starting kicker. For now, anyway.

Jim Harbaugh made the announcement after practice Thursday, two days ahead of the 49ers’ NFC divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers (12-5) at Candlestick Park.

“Suffice it to say we feel confident in David giving us the best chance to win,” Harbaugh said.

The 49ers (11-4-1) signed Billy Cundiff on Jan. 1 to compete with Akers, a 15-year veteran who has struggled this season while making only 29 of 42 field-goal attempts. Akers revealed last week he underwent double hernia surgery last February, then re-aggravated the area when he slipped on the field during practice.

Akers understood why Cundiff was brought in, but made it clear he wants to remain the kicker.

“He responded like a football player does,” Harbaugh said. “He competed.”

Cundiff, who missed a potential tying 32-yarder that might have kept Baltimore and Harbaugh’s big brother, John, from reaching the Super Bowl last season, will remain on the roster.

Harbaugh said he isn’t likely to be among the active players Saturday.

“To be determined — most likely not,” Harbaugh said. “He’s done a nice job. David’s done a better job and is more prepared to give us the best chance to win.”

Akers received death threats last month via Twitter, and NFL and team security got involved.

He missed overtime kicks twice against the Rams this season, with the 49ers losing at St. Louis and tying at home. Akers had a field goal blocked in a loss at Seattle on Dec. 23 that Richard Sherman returned 90 yards for a touchdown.

He missed two more wide left in a home victory against Arizona in the regular-season finale before bouncing back to make two.

The 38-year-old Akers began the season by making a 63-yarder in a season-opening win at Green Bay in which the ball bounced off the crossbar and through the uprights.

Last week, he said, “I would definitely give that 63-yarder back to make the two kicks against St. Louis.”

Akers wasn’t available to the media Thursday.

“I have a lot of confidence in him,” cornerback Carlos Rogers said. “I actually thought that was going to be the choice. I thought he should stick with David from the get-go. I think that was just a little pressure to get David back on point. He was a little off. I’m glad he’s out kicking. Coach is not the guy that brings in a lot of people, changes a lot of positions. We kind of stick who we’ve stuck with from the beginning of training camp. David’s that guy. I’ve said all along David’s going to make the kick to help us win the Super Bowl. That’s just been my mindset, since Day 1.”

Akers made 44 of 52 field goals during his All-Pro 2011 season, his first in a three-year deal after joining San Francisco. His reliable left leg had seemed near-perfect — causing his teammates to wonder why the Eagles would ever let him go — until this up-and-down season.

“Everybody respects Dave in this locker room,” backup quarterback Alex Smith said. “I know it’s been tough. It’s not easy. It seems like you only really get noticed when you go out there and fail. Everybody has respect for what Dave is about, what he stands for. He’s obviously gone through a rough patch. Happy to see him win the competition. I hope it gets him back on track.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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