In not so surprising news, a source has informed Adam Caplan that the 49ers plan on releasing kicker David Akers before the start of free agency. The 49ers kicker had a record-setting 2011 season, and got off to a strong start in 2012, tying the record for longest field goal. Unfortunately it was mostly downhill from there as Akers struggled most of the season. He was solid in the Super Bowl, but the writing was already on the wall at that point.
As Jason Hurley previously discussed, if the 49ers release Akers, they would save approximately $3.05 million in cap space in 2013. They would still be on the hook for $566,667 in prorated signing bonus money. The 49ers are anywhere from a million dollars under the cap to a few hundred thousand over the cap, depending on your source. Either way, this move will get them well under the cap before the start of free agency. Add in the Alex Smith trade and the 49ers could be upwards of $13 or $14 million under the cap.
The question now is how the 49ers will address the kicker position. Do they go high on Dustin Hopkins, or one of the other kickers? Or do they go after a Phil Dawson, Rob Bironas or other such kicker on the free agent market?
Here is a rundown of Mel Kiper's top five kickers:
1. Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
2. Caleb Sturgis, Florida
3. Zach Brown, Portland State
4. Brett Maher, Nebraska
5. Brett Baer, Louisiana-Lafayette
Here are the top ten kickers according to ESPN's Scouts Inc. folks:
1. Phil Dawson
2. Rob Bironas
3. Nate Kaeding
4. Lawrence Tynes
5. Nick Folk
6. Josh Brown
7. Mike Nugent
8. Jason Hanson
9. Steven Hauschka (likely sticking with Seattle)
10. Ryan Longwelll