With playoff football right around the corner, the San Francisco 49ers are making attempts to shore up their concerns within their field goal department. This week the 49ers signed nine-year NFL veteran kicker Billy Cundiff to their roster to have an open competition with their struggling kicker David Akers. Never one to shy away from player position controversy or unconventional team decisions, coach Jim Harbaugh has stated that he fully intends on keeping both kickers on the roster up until and maybe through the playoffs.
Akers is currently mired in the worst season of his career, having only made 29 of 42 field goals on the year. As well as missing six field goals in the last eight games. This coming after a historic start to the 2012 regular season, when he tied the record for the longest field goal ever in the NFL at 63 yards. At only 69% on the year and with three field goals blocked, his 14-year career may be coming to a close. Despite having surgery in February for a hernia, and a recent hernia related flare up that required injections, Akers insists that his performance is in no way correlated to his condition.
Unfortunately, his lack of production this year has not settled well with some fans, as Akers reported receiving death threats last month via Twitter. And though Akers has since closed his Twitter account, it still doesn’t eliminate a very sad fact that one could receive threats on his well being over a game. Haven’t 49ers fans learned anything from the way Kyle Williams was treated last year after his miscues on the football field? No one should be treated with such terrifyingly disrespect just because of the way they perform in a contest. Sure, it’s great to have passionate fans. But when the passion is displayed as rage, directly stating the intention to actually commit murder, it has gone way too far. Those people are not fans, they are the feeble minded that cannot grasp the concept of competition and humanity. Slumps happen, bad games happen, it’s part of sport as it’s part of life, there is not a single reason to demonstrate such hatred over it.
Cundiff for his part will be walking into a situation in which the goal will be very much in reach. And while his performance over the last few years has not been exemplary, this will be his biggest opportunity yet. Cundiff has seen stints with the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, and Washington Redskins over his nine-year career. Though never fully gaining the confidence from the coaching staff on those respective teams. He was cut from the Redskins earlier this year after playing in five games and making only seven of his 12 field goal attempts. He also tried out for the 49ers earlier in the year as well, but did not see that develop into fruition. So with playoff games on the line, and with Akers struggling physically and mentally, this just may be the opportunity that he needs to become successful again. As for the 49ers, his track record indicates that they should ultimately stick with Akers in the end. But one never knows what will happen with this team.
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