It’s likely that David Akers will be the kicker for the 8-2-1 49ers Sunday when they play the 4-6-1 Rams in St. Louis, but this week his status has been in doubt.
So much so that head coach Jim Harbaugh brought in free-agent kickers Nate Kaeding and Billy Cundiff for tryouts Tuesday. On Wednesday, Harbaugh explained he wanted “to make sure that we have a Plan B.”
Akers, last year’s record-setting Pro Bowl place-kicker, was listed by the team after Wednesday’s practice as being limited by a pelvis injury, reported Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Branch noted that Akers may have been injured in last Sunday’s victory over the Saints, when it appeared he was hit by a Saints player while attempting a field goal, which was blocked.
To reporters Wednesday, Harbaugh noted that Akers “is working through something,” which was the reason he brought in Kaeding and Cundiff.
The injury Akers is working through would be one more wrinkle in a season that has been much less consistent for Akers than 2011, his first season in San Francisco.
This year, Akers has connected on 19-of-27 field goals, a success rate of 70 percent. Last season, Akers’ success rate was 84.6 percent, as he made 44-of-52 field goals. His career success rate is 82 percent, so Akers’ performance in 2012 has been significantly off.
Before this week, Akers has said there’s been nothing physically wrong with him, and that he’s just continuing to work to be more consistent. Some analysts have noted Akers has remained consistently good on shorter kicks, but isn’t getting as many close-in field goals this season because the 49ers are scoring more touchdowns in the red zone. He’s missed four of seven tries this season from 40-49 yards.
Earlier this month, after missing a field goal in overtime that would have given the 49ers a victory over the Rams – a game that ended in a 24-24 tie – Akers said he felt “horrible for doing that,” but vowed to do his best to find the groove he was in last season when he seemed automatic.
In 2011, his 44 field goals set an NFL record, as did his 52 attempts and 166 points for a kicker.
“I’m trying my best,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “And I can’t really hang my head because of that. I try hard. I work hard. I put a lot of time and effort into this craft, and it’s been a little different than I’m used to.”
It now appears Akers will be OK to kick against the Rams Sunday, but the “Plan B” options of Kaeding and Cundiff are experienced, solid options.
Kaeding, the former Charger, is the most accurate regular-season kicker in NFL history with a success rate of 86.9 percent, and a two-time Pro Bowler who is only 30.
Cundiff was released by the Redskins earlier this season after making just 7-of-12 field goals, but is a 32-year-old veteran with a career success rate of 75.5 percent.