Jim Harbaugh has supported David Akers through a slump that has lasted most of the season. This was the first time he openly criticized the six-time All-Pro kicker. Harbaugh said he is unsure if there will be a kicking change or not for the playoffs. The position will be closely examined before the 49ers play in the NFC Divisional playoffs, according to Harbaugh..
“I don’t know if we have to [make a change],” said Harbaugh. “We’ll evaluate the position. It’s his job to make the field goals. It’s not to his standard.”
Akers was wide left from 40 and 44 yards on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. In the second half, the 49ers chose to go for it on fourth down twice rather than elect to attempt two long field goals of 54 and 48 yards. They converted both attempts with passes to Michael Crabtree. Akers later redeemed himself and made two field goals from 43 and 26 yards.
He was mostly automatic inside 40 yards where he has made 18 of 23 attempts. He has been inconsistent when kicking beyond 40 yards where he is 8-16. This includes hitting 6-10 from 40 to 49 yards and two out of six from 50 yards or more. Akers tied an NFL record by kicking a 63-yard field goal in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers.
Earlier this season, Akers was battling a pelvic injury, but Harbaugh said it had no affect on the 16-year veteran. Harbaugh said it could be an open competition for whoever becomes the placekicker in the postseason.
“[David Akers] is still our kicker and we’ll evaluate what we think is the best plan for us moving forward in our next game,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll probably bring a few [kickers] in and have some tryouts. Have some competition.”
It was reported that Billy Cundiff would have a tryout with the team during the bye week. Both Cundiff and Nate Kaeding previously tried out with the team earlier this month. Kaeding is on the Miami Dolphins and cannot be a possibility. It is also reported that former Carolina Panthers’ kicker Justin Medlock will be trying out.
Harbaugh said that kickers can struggle at times, but he expects a rebound from Akers. If Akers doesn’t look good during the bye week or practice, Harbaugh said he wouldn’t mind the idea of having two kickers on the roster to promote competition.
“Kickers can go through slumps and then come out quickly,” said Harbaugh. “Sometimes it lingers.We want to make the right decision. David’s certainly in it. He’s done a lot of great things for us. He’s made a lot of great kicks and a lot of big kicks.”