In Part 5 of our five-part series previewing Saturday night's NFC divisional playoff game, beat…
Niners give Akers the boot
The left-footed Akers appeared in all 32 regular-season games and five playoff contests the past two seasons, including San Francisco's 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3. He connected on 73 of 94 field goal attempts and all 78 extra points with the team.
The 49ers will clear $3 million of space under the NFL's new $123 million salary cap by releasing Akers. The Niners are now approximately $4 million under the cap and will add another $8.5 million of salary-cap space when the trade of quarterback Alex Smith becomes official later this month.
Akers told The Associated Press he's content with San Francisco's decision and is feeling well after having a surgical procedure last week.
He underwent double hernia surgery in February 2012, then re-aggravated the area during the season when he slipped on the field during practice.
In 2011, after joining the 49ers as a free agent on a three-year deal, Akers set NFL records with 44 field goals made and 52 attempted. He set a new league record for most points scored by a kicker with 166.
Akers also tied the NFL record for most games of six or more points in a season, scoring at least that many in each of San Francisco's 16 games. Between 2011 and 2012, Akers had a run of 16 consecutive games of two or more field goals made, also a league record. Akers' six games of four or more field goals made in 2011 also is a NFL record.
Akers' record run with the 49ers continued into the 2012 season, when he tied a NFL mark for the longest field goal made when he kicked from 63 yards in the season-opening win at Green Bay, bouncing the ball off the crossbar and through the upright.
But after continuing his steady and prodigious scoring pace early in the season, Akers began a decline that saw him miss several key kicks during the remainder of the season.
Akers made just 29 of 44 field-goal attempts during the course of the season, his lowest percentage since 1999. That included two potential game-winning kicks in separate overtime games against the St. Louis Rams, leading to a tie and a 49ers loss.
Akers, now 38 years old, particularly struggled from long range. He finished the season 9 of 19 on attempts from 40 yards or more. The 49ers even brought in veteran Billy Cundiff to compete against Akers before the divisional-round playoff and NFC championship game.
Niners coach Jim Harbaugh decided to stick with Akers anyway. Akers hit the left upright and missed on his only attempt in the NFC title game, from just 38 yards out when the 49ers were trailing in the second half. But San Francisco rallied to beat Atlanta 28-24 and advance to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1994 season.
Akers made three field goals in San Francisco's 34-31 loss to Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII. However, he missed a 39-yard try that was called back because the Ravens were flagged for running into the kicker.
After a Nov. 25 game at New Orleans, Akers returned to the doctor in Philadelphia who performed his sports hernia surgery to receive an injection. He also suspended his Twitter account because he said he received a death threat.
Akers played 12 seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles before signing with the 49ers. He had been so steady his first season that many 49ers teammates publicly questioned why the Eagles didn't re-sign him.
Akers' 297 points over the past two seasons are the most in the NFL during that span. A four-time All-Pro, Akers has played in 221 games and connected on 367 of 453 field goal attempts and 521 of 527 PATs for 1,622 career points.
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