David Akers, whose 2012 season began with a record-tying 63-yard field goal but ended in the worst slump of his career, was released today by the 49ers. That move, plus the pending trade of quarterback Alex Smith, will give the 49ers more than $12 million in salary-cap relief. Akers was due to earn a base salary of $3 million in the upcoming season.
A year after he set NFL records in field goals made (44) and attempted (52), Akers missed more attempts -- 13 -- than any other kicker in the league in 2012, including two potential game-winning kicks in separate overtime games against the Rams. He was particularly bad from 40 yards and beyond, making only nine of 19 long-range attempts.
His agent, Jerrold Colton, said Wednesday that Akers had a minor procedure last week after struggling with a sports hernia for the second half of the season. Akers had another procedure a year ago to address the sports hernia. He said he aggravated the injury during the season and flew to Philadelphia after the 49ers' Nov. 25 win in New Orleans to receive treatment.
Colton said Akers, 38, had no plans to retire. "He's very confident right now that he'll be as good as ever," Colton said.
Akers' slide grew so troubling that the 49ers took the unprecedented step of bringing in another veteran kicker, Billy Cundiff, for a competition just before the playoffs. Akers won that competition, but he still was shaky in the playoffs and the Super Bowl. He hit the left upright on his only attempt in the NFC Championship and would have missed a 39-yard try in the Super Bowl if the Ravens hadn't been flagged for running into the kicker.
"The 49ers would like to thank David for his service, dedication and leadership over the past two years," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in the statement. "He is a true professional who represented himself and this organization with class. We wish him, and his family, all the best."
Akers was voted to the Pro Bowl six times, including in 2011 with the 49ers, and he is a four-time Associated Press All-Pro.
The last time the 49ers selected a kicker in the draft was 2002 when they took Jeff Chandler from Florida in the fourth round. Said Baalke when asked about the position at last month's scouting combine: "We're going to be looking at every position in free agency. We're going to be looking at every position in the draft. And we're going to address the needs we have through one of those two options."
-- Matt Barrows