Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh talks about kicker David Akers. We discuss his comments about the Niners' special teams situation.
On Thursday, San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh gave another press conference from New Orleans. He had an opportunity to dive into the kicker situation a bit. By now it's well documented that David Akers has struggled greatly in 2012.
He saw career lows this year, hitting only 69 percent of his field goal attempts. Harbaugh avoided questions earlier on in the season, but went into a bit more detail this week.
On what he has seen from David Akers:
He did have the offseason surgery. It was a struggle for him in the offseason, not that I knew that. I wasn't aware of that, but teammates and talking to David, it's something that he worked very hard at, rehabilitating in the offseason. Came into training camp ready to go and got off to a wicked hot start at the beginning of the season. Then had some missed field goals in the middle, but was just grinding.
The true competitor that he is kept working and kept grinding at it. Not over-kicking, but grinding with the process. He's been hitting the ball really well. He's had some really good hits on the ball that haven't gone through and we'll live with that. We know what he's capable of doing. He's going through his process practicing, working at it, and we'll get the results. We're very confident he's going to have a big day in the Super Bowl.
On whether there was a moment he decided to stick with David Akers:
That's a multiple choice question, but I think several factors. What he's done, what he's capable of, the way he's worked at is rehabilitation, and the way he's hitting the ball. We even threw in some competition there three or four weeks back and he prevailed in that environment. There are several factors.
Harbaugh continued to show confidence in Akers in front of the media, but we've seen his deflated reaction on the sideline when Akers pulls it left.
Even though Harbaugh and Akers were reassured heading into the NFC Championship -- having released Billy Cundiff -- No. 2 missed again. Akers had an opportunity to tie the game in the second half and missed a 38-yarder from the field.
Fortunately, the 49ers offense was able to finish the game strong and pull out the win.
San Francisco might have to rely on their offense and defense once again because Akers just isn't automatic anymore. The last time the 49ers and Ravens faced off, it was close to the very end. It wouldn't be particularly surprising to anyone if this game came down to a field goal.
But the Niners are at the point of no return. They are sure to address the kicker situation in the offseason, but right now Akers is the guy. It's just unfortunate that the combination of his surgery and mental state seems to have jarred him off his game.
The clutch ability hasn't been there this season, and that is particularly bothersome. A field goal attempt in the Super Bowl is one of the biggest pressure moments. If the 49ers are trading field goals with the Ravens like they did in 2011, San Francisco is at a clear disadvantage.