Jim Harbaugh David AkersThe San Francisco 49ers announced today that they have released kicker David Akers. General manager Trent Baalke issued the following statement:

“The 49ers would like to thank David for his service, dedication and leadership over the past two years,” said 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke. “He is a true professional who represented himself and this organization with class. We wish him, and his family, all the best.”

This move doesn’t come as a surprise, since Akers carried a cap number of over $3 million next season and was the second worst in terms of field goal accuracy among qualified kickers. Only Mason Crosby of the Green Bay Packers was worse. It was against the Packers in Week 1 when Akers started off the year by tying the record for the longest field goal in NFL history, bouncing a 63-yarder off the crossbar just before halftime in the 49ers’ 30-22 win at Lambeau. After a spectacular 2011 season that saw Akers get first-team All-Pro recognition, that kick led many to believe he’d be just as dependable in 2012.

That would not be the case. Akers underwent sports hernia surgery after the 2011 postseason, and was listed on the injury report several times with a “pelvis” issue this past season. Akers’ agent said he underwent a surgical procedure last week to deal with hernia issue. The problems appeared to be just as much mental as physical however, as his performance on kickoffs was fine this year. It was on field goals of 40+ yards where Akers struggled, as he went 2-for-7 on kicks of that length over the last half of the regular season. He was not asked to try a kick from that distance in the playoffs.

As much as the 49ers (and their fans) worried about Akers costing the team a chance at a title, that didn’t prove to be the case. He was only directly responsible for one “loss” (and that was actually a tie at home against the Rams), and while he missed one FG attempt during the Super Bowl he ended up getting a second chance after a Ravens penalty and making his next try.

Now the 49ers will set out to find another kicker. They could draft one, but don’t be surprised if they go after 38-year-old Phil Dawson. Dawson was not franchised by the Cleveland Browns after getting tagged for the previous two seasons, and he kicked for Cleveland when 49ers special teams coach Brad Seely coached there in 2009-10 (Billy Cundiff, who the 49ers signed and released late this past season, also kicked for the Browns in 2009). Dawson has experience kicking in rugged conditions, and made 29-of-31 field goals (93.5%), making 6-for-6 from 40-49 yards and 7-for-7 from 50+ in 2012.