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Akers kept as Niners’ kicker over Cundiff

The SportsXchange

The 49ers won't change kickers, after all.

Despite signing free agent Billy Cundiff to compete with struggling David Akers, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh announced Thursday that Akers will retain his job for the team's divisional playoff game Saturday against Green Bay.

"I think, suffice it to say we feel confident in David giving us the best chance to win," Harbaugh said. "(Akers) responded like a football player does. Competed and not really more to say about it."

Harbaugh said it is unlikely Cundiff will be active Saturday, but that decision has not ultimately been determined.

After Cundiff signed with the team on Jan. 1, it was widely expected that he, not Akers, would handle the placekicking duties in the playoffs. Akers, who made just 24 of his final 37 kicks during the regular season, seemingly had lost confidence and it appeared Harbaugh, evident by his play-calling in the regular-season finale, had too.

Akers was particularly bad from 40 yards and beyond, where he made just 9 of 19 field-goal attempts, but outperformed Cundiff in practice over the past week.

"He's done a nice job," Harbaugh said of Cundiff. "But, David has done a better job and more prepared to give us the best chance to win."

In the AFC championship game a year ago, Cundiff missed a potential game-tying, 32-yard field goal at the end of regulation for Baltimore, which was and still is coached by Harbaugh's brother, John.

Jim Harbaugh said he hadn't spoken with his brother specifically about that kick. Cundiff was released at the end of the preseason by Baltimore and then again by Washington after he was seven of 12 on field-goal attempts for the Redskins.

On Monday, Cundiff -- not Akers -- made the 40-mile trip to Candlestick Park from the team's facility in Santa Clara to kick on the grass in the stadium. It's unclear how much his performance there factored into Harbaugh's decision to stick with Akers.
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