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September 9, 2012
Akers has hall-of-fame encounter after big kick

akers63.jpg

GREEN BAY, WISC. -- What's better than landing in the record book with a 63-yard field goal? If you're David Akers, it's setting that mark with a dramatic, end-of-half-shot that caromed off the crossbar and then getting a pat on the back from the only living place kicker in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Akers said he ran into Jan Stenerud, who was enshrined in 1991, as Akers came out of the locker room and began preparing for the second half. "Congratulations, great, great kick," Stenerud told Akers, according to Akers. "That's pretty incredible to come from a hall of famer, the lone hall of fame kicker."

To be precise, George Blanda and Lou Groza also are in the hall of fame. Both men, however, played other positions - Blanda also was a quarterback and Groza doubled as an offensive lineman. Stenerud is the only pure kicker to be inducted.

Akers now joins Tom Dempsey, Jason Elam and Sebastian Janikowski as the only players who have made a field goal from 63 yards. Akers said he was good from 61 yards before the game, and knew if the situation arose he'd have a chance.

That situation came about just before the half. The 49ers defense forced the Packers to punt with 32 seconds remaining and Kyle Williams returned it 20 yards to the San Francisco 38. Then, on his only play of the game, quarterback Colin Kaepernick gained 17 yards on a run.

When he entered the league in 1998, Akers said there was some talk the strong-legged youngster might flirt with the distance record for field goals. In fact, he made a 72 yarder in practice when he was 25. He didn't think the record would come when he was 37 years old.

"I never had an opportunity," Akers said. "And if I did, I'd miss it a little bit. But to be able to do that today - it's the kick of a career. Fourteen years, and to be able to do something like that, it's pretty remarkable. And I just think it's a blessing. And honestly, a little bit of a miracle in my opinion."

Akers set an NFL record last year by kicking 44 field goals in a season. He could break that this year after kicking three on Sunday.

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Jim Harbaugh doesn't want to talk about the 75-yard punt return for a touchdown by Randall Cobb that initially appeared to be nullified by an illegal-block-in-the back penalty. Officials threw a flag on the play after Packers linebacker Terrell Manning hit Anthony Dixon, who had a good angle on Cobb, in the back, but later picked up the flag.

The Packers had only scored seven points by the start of the fourth quarter, and Cobb's return gave them - and the Lambeau Field crowd - new life.

Dixon wasn't as tight-lipped as his head coach. He said the official who saw the illegal block allowed himself to be overturned by another official.

"I was standing beside the officials, and I heard the conversation," Dixon said. "It was ridiculous. Whoever that official was, it seemed like his confidence was bad. Because he had the call, and he let the (other) dude come in and talk him out of it. He's got to stick with that."

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Et cetera -- Left tackle Joe Staley's game was rougher than you probably thought. Not only did he give up two sacks to linebacker Clay Matthews, he left the game with what he suspected was a broken nose. Staley said the injury happened on the first play of the game when the edge of his helmet came down hard on the bridge of his nose, which had a large gash in it. Staley said he couldn't breathe through his nose throughout the contest.

* The return that set up Akers' record field goal was Williams' only return of the afternoon. He fair-caught three others and let two bounce toward the end zone in what was a flawless day in substituting for injured Ted Ginn.

* The 49ers sacked Aaron Rodgers three times. The first was by Aldon Smith, who immediately negated the 10-yard loss with a 15-yard penalty for taking off his helmet. The second was by Carlos Rogers, the cornerback's first sack in his eight-year career.

* Running backs Brandon Jacobs (knee) and LaMichael James were inactive. Rookie A.J. Jenkins was active but did not play. Neither did recent acquisition, outside linebacker Clark Haggans.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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