David Akers was still the talk of the 49ers locker room on Tuesday just two days after he tied an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal during the team’s Week 1 win at Green Bay.
Jim Harbaugh called Akers the greatest kicker of all-time after the game and a close look at Akers’ career makes it hard to argue with the 49ers coach. Still, the veteran kicker was quick to send much of the credit to his teammates.
“The one thing I need to reiterate is it would not have been possible without our O-line,” Akers said. “If you get any penetration on a kick like that you’re done. Those guys stood in there and they took the brunt of the force.
They never asked for accolades or anything like that. You can’t go out and even attempt stuff like that without them really sticking their nose in there and being the mud hogs that they are.”
Akers compared being accurate from such an improbable distance to a golfer making a hole-in-one, but the chances of splitting the uprights from the opposite half of the field is even more difficult historically.
Of the four kickers to make from 63-yards in NFL history, only Akers and Tom Dempsey have done it in a Stadium that was not at altitude.
Jason Elam and Sebastian Janikowski each made their 63-yarders in the mile high air of Denver, while Dempsey’s came at sea level in New Orleans’ Tulane Stadium.
Coming off a 3-for-3 performance in which all of Akers’ attempts were from over 40 yards, thoughts are beginning to arise that the 49ers kicker can eclipse his NFL record of 44 field goal makes set last year in his first season with the team.
Even in light of mentioning the record, Akers is remaining grounded, pointing out there are 15 more regular season games on the schedule.
“All I care to do honestly, and this is from the bottom of my heart, is to make the kicks when the team puts me on the field,” Akers said. “My goal is every year to go make every kick whether it’s 15 (attempts) or 52 like we tried last year.”
Andy Lee, the team’s Pro Bowl punter and holder, was among the first to celebrate with Akers on the field following the kick and he continued to praise his fellow specialist when he spoke to the media in front of his locker.
Lee pointed out the added prestige of connecting for such a historic field goal at a fabled venue like Lambeau Field.
The chances of making such a long kick in the unpredictable winds of Candlestick Park are much lower than odds are during a warm early September afternoon in Wisconsin.
“Candlestick can be really windy and that normally doesn’t translate to the ball going further there no matter which way you’re going,” Lee said. “What makes most 50-plus-yard field goals harder is it’s got to stay on line longer. In closer it can be a little off and go through, but from further back has longer to track.
“Being that said it’s a hard field goal to make period, and if you miss that you’re giving the other team the ball at midfield because they get it from the point of the kick.”
It’s worth noting the circumstances of Akers’ attempt in Green Bay were just about perfect. The field goal try came inside 49ers territory as time expired to eliminate the chance of giving up great field position.
Still, the Packers placed Randall Cobb deep to try a return in case the attempt fell short. There was also the possibility of a Green Bay block and subsequent return as Akers noted that he kept the ball’s trajectory low to make it go further.
“For the most part you definitely have to kind of club down a little bit to get the distance there,” said Akers about the way he controls kick distance. “It’s like you’re changing your loft the way you would on a golf club.”
Given all the historic perspective surrounding Akers, that the kick also had an important impact on the game is somewhat forgotten. The three points gave the 49ers a 16-7 lead and the all-important momentum heading into halftime on Sunday.
Akers’ consistency over a 14-year career makes the possibility of additional important, if not historic kicks, in the future more of an expectation than an aspiration. There’s little doubt such an experienced specialist is a weapon for the 49ers.
Tags: Andy Lee, David Akers
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