Lost Akers: Jim Harbaugh Sticking With His Struggling Kicker

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

Just when is the point of no return for making a roster move as the Super Bowl approaches?

Ask the New England Patriots, who released Tiquan Underwood less than a day before Super Bowl XLVI. The reasoning behind the move was so the Pats could add another defensive lineman to the roster. Underwood, a wide receiver, was the consummate professional, taking the move in stride and using it as motivation. If the San Francisco 49ers chose to part ways with David Akers in similar fashion, would anyone question the move? He has been pretty awful this year.

This season has been an aberration for Akers, a 15-year veteran, who’s had exactly zero seasons–since 2000 when he became a starter for the Eagles–in which he’s failed to convert at least 70 percent of his field goals. He’s good on 81 percent of his postseason field goal attempts. He is 29-f0r-42 this season, good bad for 69 percent, including a miss against Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game.

For any athlete who’s struggling as Akers is, the biggest thing to do is remain positive. And why shouldn’t he remain upbeat, he’s got the vote of confidence from the only man in the locker room who’s opinion matters–head coach Jim Harbaugh. He says his confidence and form is good, it’s just a matter of executing the kicks. He seems eerily relaxed throughout this whole Super Bowl experience even though his miscues have come to the forefront. Chalk it up to 15 years in the league.

When you see an athlete encounter real failure for the first time in his 15th season in the NFL, you immediately assume, “He’s getting old.” That’s not the case with Akers–last season he connected on 84.6 percent of his field goals, best in the league. You don’t just lose your mojo overnight.

So why now, why in this, his 15th season, is he so up-and-down? Like I said, it’s an aberration. All it takes is one made field goal on Sunday to make David Akers a hero in San Francisco 49ers football lore.

The other option for the 49ers is former Baltimore Raven Billy Cundiff–who has connected on only seven of 12 field goal attempts this season for the Washington Redskins.

Take your chances with Akers. Harbaugh is.


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