There are plenty of people that deserve a game ball for the 49ers 13-8 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. You could make arguments for Kendall Hunter, Vernon Davis, Alex Smith, and much of the 49ers defense. All stepped up big at different times to get a key road win.
And yet, as a sucker for special teams, I wanted to use this award to give David Akers a little love here at Niners Nation. I've been a David Akers fan for a while due to his consistency and career of general awesomeness. I've always been a sucker for quality special teams and Akers represents that. Maybe not as much as Andy Lee, but he represents nonetheless.
I doubt we'll have many times to give David Akers a "game ball" but given his achievements to date this season and through his career, his performance against the Bengals deserves a bit of notice. In the third quarter, Akers booted a 23-yard field goal to tie the game 3-3. The field goal was the 300th of his career. He added his 301st in the fourth quarter to give the 49ers a 13-6 lead. The field goals moved him into 21st place all time and 6th among active kickers.
Prior to Akers arrival, Joe Nedney had been the 49ers kicker since 2005. He was a model of consistency inside the 40 and as a welcome relief from the likes of Jeff Chandler and Jose Cortez. In six seasons with the 49ers, Nedney missed four field goals inside the 40 and six from between 40 and 49.
Unfortunately injuries caught up with Nedney and he hung up the cleats this past offseason. Thankfully the 49ers were able to get David Akers out to the Bay Area. He is 7-for-7 through three games with two clutch field goals over 50 yards. His 53-yarder against the Bengals was huge because a miss would have set the Bengals up with excellent field position and only trailing 10-6.
Special teams has been a huge key for the 49ers and David Akers has been a big part of that. I would argue the 49ers have the best overall special teams unit in the league three weeks into the season and it is one reason the 49ers are 2-1. At the very least, it has bought the offense some time to get on track.
This coming week is not only a big game for the 49ers, but also for Akers. He makes his return to Philadelphia where he spent over a decade as the Eagles kicker. People might not give it as much coverage as some other players, but given how long he spent there, I'd say it's a pretty big return for him. Let's hope he can show them once more what they're missing. I'd prefer the 49ers sew the game up early, but if Akers has to kick a game-winning field goal as time expires, I could live with that.