49ers' David Akers doesn't want to kick around old troubles

"If we would have been kicking on high school goalposts, I think we would have made every kick this year other than the three that got blocked," 49ers kicker David Akers said. "An inch is a mile in this game."
"If we would have been kicking on high school goalposts, I think we would have made every kick this year other than the three that got blocked," 49ers kicker David Akers said. "An inch is a mile in this game." (   AP)
Posted: January 31, 2013

NEW ORLEANS - David Akers once set an NFL record for consecutive field goals made in the postseason.

But the 49ers kicker's troubles in the playoffs over the last several years, compounded by his inefficiency this season, have placed the spotlight directly on the onetime Eagle as he prepares to play in his second Super Bowl.

Akers' struggles this season have been well-documented. He has missed 15 of his last 38 field-goal attempts dating from Week 3, and clanked a routine 38-yarder off the left upright in the NFC championship game.

The error did not cost San Francisco, which held off the Atlanta Falcons, 28-24, but Akers' mistakes in previous playoff games played a part in Eagles losses.

There were the missed field goal, extra point, and errant kickoff that were costly in an NFC championship game loss to Arizona in 2009. And there were the two makeable field goals that Akers missed in a first-round loss to the Packers in 2011.

It would prove to be his last game with the Eagles. Akers, the longest-tenured Eagle in team history, was asked if there was anything about the postseason that played a part in his struggles.

"I'm not going to let you change and flip the thing," he said Tuesday during Super Bowl XLVII media day. "I also set an NFL record for postseason kicks in a row. I think that will answer that enough."

Akers connected on 19 consecutive field-goal attempts over 10 playoff games from 2003 to '09. But since then he is 6 of 10 in seven games.

"Obviously, it's on paper that that has happened," 49ers special-teams coordinator Brad Seely said. "But I feel pretty confident that when he goes out there he's going to do well or we wouldn't have him on our team."

The 49ers came very close to cutting Akers. After his late-season woes, in which he made just 9 of 18 field goals, San Francisco signed kicker Billy Cundiff on Jan. 1.

Akers and Cundiff squared off in practice for the next week.

"There's nothing I can do about it. Have any opinion about it," Akers said. "As far as competition goes, it's kind of late in the year for me to compete, so I just went out and had the same mind-set, that I'm here until I'm otherwise told so."

Coach Jim Harbaugh did not decide to stick with his incumbent kicker until two games before the 49ers faced the Packers in their opening playoff game. Akers rewarded his coach's trust by hitting a 36-yard field goal against Green Bay, but he missed the following week against Atlanta at the Georgia Dome.

Cundiff was cut before the Falcons game and could not be brought back on the roster, according to NFL rules. Harbaugh said he was staying with Akers nonetheless. The 38-year old's past successes obviously played a part in the decision.

Akers has been to six Pro Bowls - his last came last season, his first in San Francisco. He got off to a strong start this season, making his first six field goals, including a 63-yard boot to tie the NFL record.

But then cracks started to show. He missed two in a blowout win over the New York Jets, two more in a 23-point loss to the New York Giants, and then he was hit-or-miss in the last six games.

"If we would have been kicking on high school goalposts, I think we would have made every kick this year other than the three that got blocked," Akers said. "An inch is a mile in this game. We're not off by much."

Both of Akers' misses - 34- and 41-yard field goals - in his last playoff game with the Eagles were wide right by inches. After the 21-16 loss, Andy Reid was asked if Akers' misses were costly and he answered: "We can all count."

Akers later revealed that he had found out days before the game that his daughter might have a cancerous cyst. She did and it was removed successfully.

Through his daughter's ordeal, Akers was not sure he would be back with the Eagles. He and the team could not agree on a contract extension in December 2010, and the Eagles placed the transition tag on him in February.

He didn't sign it, and when the Eagles drafted Alex Henery in the fourth round, it was clear they were moving on.

"I was kind of stuck in a Catch-22 that I wanted to retire as an Eagle, but I didn't want to give up my opportunity to try to finish up and do well and help my family," Akers said. "Everybody back in Philly knows about the financial [situation] and losing a lot of money."

Akers lost approximately $4 million in a Ponzi scheme from 2007 to '09. He's been through it all, including missed field goals. He said he wants to make every kick Sunday and win his first Super Bowl. But if he doesn't, it won't kill him.

"This isn't a life-or-death situation," Akers said. "This is a job, and jobs come and go. The most important thing to me is my family and the health of my family."


 

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