After speculation last week, the inevitable has happened. The San Francisco 49ers announced the release of kicker David Akers. In making this decision, the 49ers clear $3.05 million in cap space. The 49ers were already clear of the cap by approximately $1 million, which means they now sit a little over $4 million under the cap. When they add in the $9M+ from the Alex Smith trade next week, the 49ers will find themselves over $13 million under the 2013 salary cap.
The move itself was not surprising. Akers had a strong 2011 season, and got off to a great start through the first two games of 2012. Unfortunately, his season rapidly deteriorated. He was fine in the Super Bowl, but it was fairly obvious the team would look for another option.
The question now will be how the team elects to fill the kicker position. They could sign one of the veteran free agents, which includes, among others, Phil Dawson, Josh Brown, Mike Nugent,Jason Hanson, Shayne Graham, Nate Kaeding, Lawrence Tynes, Nick Folk, Steven Hauschka and Rob Bironas. They could also go the college route, either through the draft with a Dustin Hopkins or Caleb Sturgis, or through undrafted free agency.
I think they will end up drafting a kicker to build for the long-term, but there are plenty of options at their disposal.