Here we are, safely ensconced in the bye week, and the Niners have reverted to mini-camp mode in the kicking department. Because of the status of one David Akers, hurt or not, he’s been sucking the big one. His accuracy rate of 69% is good enough for 31st in the league. Only Green Bay has a worse kicker in (Jackie) Mason Crosby, who is an abysmal 64%.
The season for Akers started out with such hope as he tied the NFL record with a 63 yard kick in Green Bay. But he had costly misses in the Giants game early, and both the StL games (1 miss in the OT tie, and 1 miss in the OT loss) among a whole bunch of other botched attempts. With those kicks, the Niners could have ended up 13-3 and holding the #1 seed, but in the end the Niners still have the bye, and Atl will lose so the NFC Championship game likely goes through SF anyway.
The difference between this year and last is the distance of Akers’kicks. Last year, Akers was 31-32 in kicks from 0-39 yards. This year, he’s 20-23 for the same distance. 40 and up last year, he was 13-20 with an astounding 7-9 on 50+ kicks. This year, the numbers are much worse at 9-19, and 2-6 from 50+.
So, by the numbers, Akers isn’t getting the short kicks he got last year. He’s being asked to kick longer ones, and it isn’t working. He was hurt at some point in the season, but nothing has been done about his problems, til now. The Niners yesterday signed Billy (what, me worry?) Cundiff. He of the blown 32 yarder in the AFC championship game last year. Cundiff has the wonderful stat of being signed to 10 teams in as many seasons. He missed the cut with 5 of them, and played his way off of 4. Sure, he’s got experience, but he also has experience missing big kicks.
Let the competition begin.