SANTA CLARA -- Count 49ers kicker David Akers as being just as puzzled as anyone about his field goal struggles this season. Akers made just 69 percent of his attempts during the regular season -- one year after setting an NFL record for total field goals made (44) last season -- and missed his lone attempt in the NFC Championship Game. The 38-yarder against the Falcons clanged off the upright.
The 49ers, though, have maintained their support of Akers this week. Head coach Jim Harbaugh said Akers' leg has looked good in practices. Akers echoed that today, and said he's not sure why his practice and pre-game success isn't carrying over into games.
"You look at the kicks, they're so minute on how far they're off," Akers said. "And we're talking inches on a lot of kicks. And that's the frustrating thing, because an inch is a mile in our game, from the (63-yard attempt against Green Bay in Week 1) hitting the pole and going over, to hitting the top of the eyelet last week. One's in, one's out.
"You look at those things, you're like, what's the difference? You look at the film, you see your form, form looks pretty good. It's just one of those things that I just scratch my head, talk to a lot of guys that I talk to when I'm doing well and when I'm not. And they say, hey, just keep fighting through it. And that's the only thing I can do."
Akers said he has been talking with other kickers and former kicking coaches, along with 49ers special teams coach Brad Seely, and that the misses are a "head-scratcher for a lot of people." Akers made 20 of 23 regular-season attempts from inside 40 yards but fell off beyond 40, making 9 of 19. He is 1-for-2 in the postseason, having made a 36-yarder in the divisional round against Green Bay, and has been perfect on point-after attempts.
"We all have great faith in David, he's done a lot for our team," Harbaugh said. "I believe he's really been hitting the ball well consistently now for weeks. I can't agree that he's in a slump. All we can do is, we can make the snap, make the hold, give great protection, and him keep hitting the balls. And we'll have confidence that those will go in."
Akers was asked if it's difficult to carry a season's worth of struggles into the Super Bowl, one of the biggest stages in sports.
"You kind of have to," he said. "I guess it's no different than a relief pitcher or a DB that got burned on a long play. You've got to go out and let the body mechanics take over. I mean there's nothing really to do. The team obviously has faith in me, they've kept me here, I'm going to go out, I'm going to give everything I have every time, and that's the mentality I've got."
-- Matt Kawahara