News Column

San Francisco 49ers Release David Akers

March 7, 2013

Cam Inman, Contra Costa Times

David Akers' 49ers career is officially over after a two-year tenure that saw him go from a record-setting kicker to one who drew social-media death threats.

The 49ers on Wednesday released Akers, who made only 69 percent of his field-goal attempts last season (29 of 42), yet retained his job through the 49ers' run to Super Bowl XLVII.

The 49ers, who gained some $3 million in salary-cap relief with Akers' exit, can look for his successor in a well-stocked free-agent market. Among the veterans expected to become available next week are Phil Dawson, Rob Bironas, Jason Hanson, Mike Nugent and Lawrence Tynes.

The 49ers also could turn back to Billy Cundiff, whom they signed Jan. 1 to compete with Akers. Cundiff failed to unseat Akers before their Jan. 12 playoff opener against Green Bay and was waived Jan. 18.

Drafting a kicker is a seldom-used option for the 49ers, who are expected to enter the draft with 15 picks. The last time the 49ers drafted a kicker was in 2002, when they used a fourth-round pick on Jeff Chandler. He was cut two games into the 2003 season.

The top kickers in next month's draft, as projected by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., are Florida State's Dustin Hopkins, Florida's Caleb Sturgis, Portland State's Zach Brown and Nebraska's Brett Maher.

Although Akers' 15th season was filled with frustrating misses, it followed a record-setting 2011 season, in which he made 44 of 52 field-goal attempts, both NFL records, and tallied 166 points, most ever by a kicker.

"The 49ers would like to thank David for his service, dedication and leadership over the past two years," general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. "He is a true professional who represented himself and this organization with class. We wish him, and his family, all the best."

Akers missed 10 of his final 15 attempts from at least 40 yards, and he didn't try from that distance in three playoff games. He made all three of his attempts in the 34-31 Super Bowl loss to the Baltimore Ravens, but his final field goal came after a running-into-the-kicker penalty wiped out his wide-left miss from 39 yards.

Akers opened the 2012 season by tying an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal in the 49ers' win over Green Bay at Lambeau Field. But he missed two of four attempts in a Sept. 30 rout over the host New York Jets, and his job status fell further into question when he missed two of three in an Oct. 14 loss to the New York Giants.

A month later, Akers revealed that he had been battling an injury and that he underwent double-hernia surgery last February. Akers, 38, recently underwent another "minor procedure" for that hernia issue and has no intention of retiring, USA Today reported in citing Akers' agent, Jerrold Colton.

Akers deleted his Twitter account after the 49ers' Dec. 16 win at New England but not before retweeting a death threat he received for missing one of three field-goal attempts in that game. He missed his first two attempts in the regular-season finale and threw his helmet into the 49ers' bench in disgust. Akers' only official postseason miss came when he hit the left upright on a 38-yard attempt in the NFC Championship victory at Atlanta.

For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.



Source: (c)2013 Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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