The most discussed 49ers position battle this postseason isn’t getting any less dramatic. No, I’m not talking about quarterback; that was settled weeks ago, if not last week. I’m talking about the grand ol’ kicker position.
Jim Harbaugh announced on Monday that the team is sticking with the shaky David Akers as their placekicker for the Super Bowl:
“The decision has been made: David Akers is our kicker,” Harbaugh said at his weekly news conference.
That’s less a vote of confidence than it is a declaration that the team has no other choice. The team brought in Billy Cundiff as an insurance policy in case Akers had a meltdown. But after Akers went 1-for-1 (36 yards) in the divisional round against the Packers, the 49ers gave Cundiff his walking papers last week.
Fast forward to Sunday, in the NFC Championship. Akers doinks his only attempt (38 yards) off the left upright, then had a case of the sadz on the sideline, his confidence lay shattered on the ground in pieces beside his puddle of tears.
The way the game was going late, it was setting up nicely for it coming down to a potential game-tying field goal attempt by Akers. If the Falcons were able to score a TD on their second-to-last possession (the one that ended on downs on the 49ers’ 10), that would have put them up three points with likely just under a minute remaining. The 49ers would have had to scramble down field hoping to at least get in field goal position to force overtime, meaning the game would have come down to the beleaguered Akers, of all people. Would have been some high drama on what was already a fantastic game.
Alas, that’s all melodramatic speculation.
But the case still remains the 49ers right now have a kicker with not-the-highest confidence heading into the Super Bowl. Akers has two weeks to group. The 49ers, if they wanted to, could have brought in another kicker again for insurance. But who would that have been? All the attractive free agent kickers have already been snatched up by other teams. And the 49ers only other viable option, Cundiff, is off limits, as Pro Football Talk explains:
For the same reason disgruntled running back Brandon Jacobs was effectively stashed once the playoffs began (since waiver claims aren’t filed until after the Super Bowl), Cundiff can’t come back to play for the 49ers after they released him Friday.
But let’s be real. When your kicking options come down to David Akers and Billy Cundiff, you’re practically already conceding that part of the game to the other team, anyway. Just ask the Ravens: