Struggling San Francisco 49ers kicker David Akers revealed Thursday that he underwent surgery for a double hernia in February, then suffered a flare-up during the season that required a trip to his doctor in Philadelphia for injections.
However, Akers refused to cite the injury as the reason he's converted just 24 of his past 37 field-goal attempts.
"I could kick through it. I went on what the doctors and the trainers said," Akers said. "I'm just happy that last week I didn't end up costing the team the division. Now we've got the bye and a lot of good things. I'm just going to go out and keep kicking like I've been in practice, and hopefully it will transfer over to the game eventually."
Whether he gets another shot to kick in a game remains to be seen. The 49ers signed Billy Cundiff this week to compete with Akers for placekicking duties, and Cundiff looked like the player better-equipped to handle the job during the portion of practice that was open to the media Thursday. Cundiff showed a stronger, more accurate leg than Akers, who struggled to reach the goalposts on attempts of 50 or more yards.
Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal for the Baltimore Ravens at the end of regulation in the AFC Championship Game a year ago, a kick that would have sent the game into overtime. He was released at the end of training camp this year. He was subsequently signed by the Washington Redskins, for whom he went just 7-for-12, but that includes missed attempts of 57 and 62 yards.
"If you wipe those off, it's 70 percent, which is pretty average," Cundiff said. "But I missed two short field goals, and when you're playing in Washington, that's enough to get you gone."
Cundiff and Akers got to know each other when they both were selected to the Pro Bowl following the 2010 season. They have kicked together in the offseason and were both coached by Ravens kicking consultant Randy Brown.
Cundiff said he didn't feel awkward as he and Akers kicked side-by-side with both coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke looking on Thursday.
"I don't think it is. You just accept it as part of the business," Cundiff said. "It's just about performance. When you put it on those terms, it takes all of the awkwardness out of it."
Akers went to his sixth career Pro Bowl last season after setting NFL records for field goals in a season (44) and points for a kicker in a season (166). He also tied the NFL record with a 63-yard kick in the season opener against the Green Bay Packers. Akers missed overtime attempts in two games against the St. Louis Rams that ended in a tie and a loss.
"I would definitely give the 63-yarder back to make the kicks against St. Louis," Akers said.