David Akers started the season this year by tying the record for the longest field goal ever recorded in an NFL game. He ended it by missing two field goals among many others in the second half of the year and is now being challenged by Billy Cundiff for the starting job in San Francisco.
While it makes some sort of sense that the 49ers would want peace of mind when sending their field goal kicker out in a playoff game, some have criticized the move as undermining Akers. Former and long time 49ers kicker Joe Nedney questioned the team’s call to bring in other kickers for tryouts so close to a playoff game.
“I’ve just never seen this before. You’ve got a 14-year veteran going against a nine-year veteran,” Nedney said. ” This stuff happens in training camp. It doesn’t happen leading into playoff games. The fact that we’re discussing this is just crazy to me.”
Nedney, now a 49ers analyst for CSNBayArea.com, said that the issue with Akers is a confidence issue, and by bringing in a guy to replace him, the 49ers are doing nothing but stomping on the ashes of what little confidence Akers has left.
“He’s carrying a lot of noise into every single rep,” Nedney said. “When it’s going well, it’s quiet. You go out there, do your job and get it done. Every miss kind of compounds and there’s a little bit more. There’s noise in your head. There’s noise outside. You’re carrying a lot of stuff out on the field. It’s going to take a lot of mental strength for him to overcome that.”
Obviously, if Akers was making kicks, this wouldn’t even be up for discussion. But the fact of the matter is more than one team has lost in the postseason thanks to the bum foot of a kicker, from the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl to the Ravens last season. The 49ers are just doing what they can to stay off that list, and win a Super Bowl.
The two kickers will have the remainder of this week and all of next week to duke it out, as the 49ers currently own the No. 2 seed in the NFC and will play the highest remaining seed at Candlestick in two weeks.