I was making my regular rounds in the Bay Area sports blogosphere when I stumbled across something pretty interesting.
On Niners Nation, Wes Hanson wrote a post about regression being a concern for the 49ers special teams after the unit was among the best in the NFL.
Last year the 49ers had one of the best Special Teams units in the NFL. Hands down. Really, this is the ultimate irony of the NFC Championship game. I know, I know. Let’s not dwell on it. I don’t want to either, but the one phase of the game that was always supposed to be a given – Special Teams – was the phase that really hurt us in the most direct and obvious ways.
Well I’m going to hazard a guess, here, and argue that we will see a regression next year from our Special Teams, and there are a couple of reasons why.
First off, while we have two of the best kickers in the game, there is no way that David Akers and Andy Lee are sure things year in and year out. Let’s be perfectly honest, we are so spoiled. I mean, even before we had Mr. Akers, we had a pretty awesome dude by the name of Joe Nedney. Special teams has been a strong for use for a long time. As such, we should expect a little bit of fluctuation here and there. That’s totally normal, and Akers, Lee, and the gang deserve a little wiggle room after a record breaking season – most notably on the part of Mr. Akers.
What Wes wrote seemed to jive with common sense, but after a moment, I decided it would be worth taking a further look.
Last season, David Akers was able to convert on 85 percent of his 52 field goal attempts and all 34 of his extra points. These stats ranked about middle of the pack last year, which was a bit surprising for me. Based on what has been written, I was expecting it to be much higher. And yet, it wasn’t.
For his career, Akers has a FG completion percentage of 82 percent, just below last year’s 85 percent mark.
And what about the distance of said kicks?
Here are his career numbers compared to last season.
As you can see, his rate stats are not out of the ordinary. Last year, he kicked a career high 52 field goals and made 44 of them. His previous high in attempts was 40, so it is no wonder he set records.
Akers made more long field goals than he had in the past, but missed slightly more medium-long field goals.
Looking at things from a detached statistical perspective, they don’t look that out of the ordinary beside the pure number of attempts Akers had last season. His completion percentage is well within the normal range for kickers. He may not make as many 50+ yard field goals next season, but he will probably make a few more in the 40-49 yard range to make up for that.
So, is David Akers due for regression? I would say: No.
What is due for regression is the 49ers offense, which should score more touchdowns and settle for less field goals next season.