David Akers today said that he would gladly trade his NFL record-tying kick in Green Bay for the potential overtime winners he missed in two games against the Rams.
"It's been disappointing to say the least," Akers said. "Obviously, two games came down to missed kicks. And I hated to be the reason why we tied one and lost another one."
Today was the first day of competition between Akers and Billy Cundiff, the 10-year veteran the 49ers signed Wednesday after Akers missed two more kicks in Sunday's finale against Arizona. Neither man has been told exactly how the competition will work or when it will be decided.
They just know that the player who performs better in practice will be the kicker for the Jan. 12 playoff opener at Candlestick Park. "For me, it's been laid out very clearly," Cundiff said. "It's, 'Go out and practice well. Don't worry about anything else. Just give it your best.' And it's our head coaches decision and the management's decision on who's going to kick."
Akers revealed that his "up-and-down year" began in February with double hernia surgery. He said he recovered well, had a good training camp and then booted the 63-yard field goal in Green Bay in Week 1 that tied a record for the longest field goal ever made.
During the season, however, he fell following a kickoff and aggravated the injury. He said he flew to Philadelphia after the 49ers-Saints game on Nov. 25 to receive treatment. Still, he said he's felt good in recent practices and in pre-game attempts, but hasn't found any consistency this season.
Akers, a left-footed kicker, has a 69 percent field-goal percentage, the worst of his career, and one that ranks 30th among full-time kickers. "If I had an answer, I'd have fixed it a long time ago," Akers said.
Cundiff, meanwhile, is a righty. He tried out for seven teams after he was released by the Redskins in October. He said he continued to train and practice throughout the season in case an opportunity like this one arose.
Cundiff is best known for his 32-yard miss for the Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh at the end of last season's AFC Championship. Now he has the potential to return to the playoffs and kick for another head coach named Harbaugh. Does he think about redemption?
"For me - I moved on right after it happened," Cundiff said. "In order to have success in this league, you have to wipe your plate clean every year. Because you can't drag things in whether it's positive or negative. Because each year is brand new."
"Would I like to have that kick back?" Cundiff continued. "I most definitely would. But is it going to affect the way I think about this year's playoffs? Absolutely not."
- Matt Barrows