After missing two field goals Sunday, it would appear as though David Akers’ time with the 49ers is short. Even without those two misses, Akers has connected on just 71% of his field goal attempts this season. Including Sunday’s failings, he is now just 8-for-18 on kicks beyond the 40-yard line.
When asked of Akers’ job security following the game, Harbaugh was not his usual supportive self, saying “We’ll evaluate the position.”
“It’s his job to make the field goals, you know.” Harbaugh continued. “It’s not to his standard.”
The team has already worked out kickers Billy Cundiff and Nate Kaeding during Week 13. Kaeding has since signed with the Miami Dolphins, but Cundiff, as well as a few other possible upgrades, remain at large.
The following is a list, in no particular order, of available kickers. I’ve provided brief overviews of each, as well as complete playoff statistics.
A former California Bear, Ryan Longwell is just two years removed from a career season that saw him make over 94% of his field goal attempts. In that year, Longwell missed only one field goal, a 39-yarder against Chicago. Though 2011 was something of a down year, Longwell was still rather good. He made nearly 79% of his attempts, while missing only one field goal within the 40-yard marker.
Longwell spent the past six season with Minnesota where he ranks third in all-time scoring behind kicker Fred Cox and wide receiver Cris Carter. He was deemed expendable by the preseason emergence of Blair Walsh.
The 43-year old John Kasay is a bit past his prime, but showed that he was more than capable last season. After the New Orleans Saints lost Garrett Hartley in the preseason, Kasay stepped in and set a Saints’ franchise record for scoring with 147 points. Last season, he made 83% of his attempts, including a perfect 22-of-22 on field goals within the 40-yard line. Kasay was 6-of-9 from 40 to 49.
One concern about Kasay would be his ability–or lack thereof–to handle kickoffs. He has not been asked to handle those duties since week 2 of the 2010 season. Still, given the new kickoff rules, Kasay’s deficiencies could possibly be masked.
Having already tried out for the 49ers, Cundiff is a logical choice. However, last season, not only did Cundiff essentially spoil the Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl hopes, but he was also one of the worst kickers in the league. In total, Cundiff made just 75.7% of his field goals, good for the fourth worst among kickers. Still, he was 7-for-9 on field goals between the 40 and 49 yard line and 20-for-22 on field goals within the 40.
Neil Rackers might be a name most familiar to 49ers’ fans, having spent seven years in Arizona. But, for the last two seasons, Rackers has been kicking it (anyone?) with the Texans. While in Houston, Rackers made 21 of 22 attempts from 43-of-44 from within the 40 yard line and 7-of-9 from beyond the 50. However, he was just 9-of-15 between the 40 and 49-yard line.
Rackers signed with the Washington Redskins in the offseason only to be released in favor of Graham Gano. It is also worth noting that Rackers has more special teams tackles than any kicker in history.