It wasn’t the sexiest of free-agent signings when the 49ers agreed to a three-year deal with kicker David Akers on July 29.
Yet signing the free agent and former Eagles Pro Bowler has turned out to be one of the team’s best offseason moves.
When longtime 49ers kicker Joe Nedney decided to retire after the 2010 season, San Francisco went after Akers. Halfway through Akers’ first season in San Francisco, first-year 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh last week told reporters that Akers is “the best kicker in the game.”
And that was before his performance Sunday in San Francisco’s 27-20 victory over the Giants at Candlestick Park.
Akers made all four of his field-goal attempts Sunday, and has now made 23 of 25 attempts this season, including 15 straight. His 52-yarder vs. the Giants makes him 5-for-5 on kicks of more than 50 yards. He’s also a perfect 22 of 22 on extra-point kicks. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, his 91 points after nine games puts him on pace to break the team’s record for points in a season, the 138 scored by Jerry Rice in 1987.
In addition to his field goals, Akers has been solid on kickoffs – he had four touchbacks Sunday -- and also executed an onside kick in the second quarter vs. New York that set up his third field goal that gave the Niners a 9-6 halftime lead.
“It’s been a great run since I’ve been here,” Akers told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group after Sunday’s win. “I cherish every field goal that I make, every touchback, knowing that I’m trying to do my part. That’s my job.”
His work on special teams has been a big contributor to the team’s 8-1 start and seven consecutive victories. The 49ers will try to stretch than to eight in a row this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park.
Akers, in his 14th season, was undrafted out of Louisville in 1997. After spending time with the Falcons, Panthers and Redskins – plus a season with the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe – Akers had a long run with the Eagles, where he was a five-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team selected after the 2009 season.
One good sign for the 49ers – who appear a lock for the playoffs: Akers has the record for consecutive playoff field goals (19) and ranks third all-time in postseason field goals made (28).
“I can’t imagine there’s any kicker that’s bringing more to their team than David Akers is this year,” Harbaugh told reporters last week.