The San Francisco 49ers signed kicker Billy Cundiff this week to challenge incumbent David Akers after Akers missed two more field goals in the regular season finale against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Akers made just 29 of 42 field goals during the season and made just six of his last 10 attempts over the final three games.
Former 49ers kicker Joe Nedney is an analyst for CSNBayArea.com and discussed the oddity of having a kicking competition as a team enters the playoffs.
“I’ve just never seen this before. You’ve got a 14-year veteran going against a nine-year veteran,” Nedney said. ” This stuff happens in training camp. It doesn’t happen leading into playoff games. The fact that we’re discussing this is just crazy to me.”
It’s not a move head coach Jim Harbaugh would be looking to make if Akers wasn’t struggling.
Nedney said he believes that Akers missing kicks to the left points to confidence issues. For the left-footed Akers, missing left means he’s not clearing and completing the rotation on his kicks and that he’s trying to guide the ball rather than swinging his leg with conviction.
“He’s carrying a lot of noise into every single rep,” Nedney said. “When it’s going well, it’s quiet. You go out there, do your job and get it done. Every miss kind of compounds and there’s a little bit more. There’s noise in your head. There’s noise outside. You’re carrying a lot of stuff out on the field. It’s going to take a lot of mental strength for him to overcome that.”
Akers and Cundiff will have over a week to battle for the kicking duties with the 49ers on a bye this week. San Francisco will host either the Green Bay Packers or the winner of the Washington/Seattle match up in the Divisional Round next week.