Facing the music comes with the job description of being a kicker.
Since he signed on with the 49ers prior to the 2011 campaign, Akers has experienced personal highs and lows. Last season, Akers converted an NFL single-season record of 44 field goals as the 49ers reached the NFC Championship. This year, Akers made 29 of his 42 attempts, giving him his lowest success rate (69 percent) for any full season in his 14-year career.
“It’s one of those things where it’s been kind of a head-scratcher,” Akers said. “But I’m still going to be positive about going into this game. Sixty minutes away from the possibility of being a world champion, so that’s a cool thought.”
Akers said he’s been confounded by his in-game results this year, saying he’s been striking the ball well all season long, from training camp to practice to pre-game warmups. But Akers is well-aware that it’s only the on-field performance that matters.
“I haven’t had the personal success that I’d like to have this year,” Akers said. “But if we end up winning this, it’ll end up being one of the coolest teams seasons to be a part of.”
Akers is one of four 49ers on the active roster with Super Bowl experience. He was on the 2004 Philadelphia Eagles team that eventually lost to the New England in Super Bowl XXXIX.
In all, Akers has been a part of seven NFC Championships, so he knows how difficult it is just to get to America’s biggest athletic stage. As such, Akers and other players who have been there like
“I just hope that the guys are going to take that all in and just, for a moment, look out and see all the people, see all the flashes of lights at the opening kickoff, and just enjoy the fact of the hard work,” Akers said.
But as Akers also pointed out, “Experience goes so far, but you still have to go out and perform.”
As it turns out, Akers’ career was greatly impacted by the very man he’ll be trying to defeat in Super Bowl XLVII. Ravens coach John Harbaugh worked with Akers for eight seasons when they were together in Philadelphia, as they worked up the NFL ranks to reach the top levels of their respective professions.
Harbaugh and Akers collaborated on a daily basis, with Harbaugh serving as a special teams coach under head man Andy Reid.
“John is a fantastic coach and a great friend,” Akers said. “I wish him the best of success except for the next Sunday. John is a great special teams guy, knows a lot about kicking, probably knows all about me. But I just think the world of him and I’ve thought the world of the Harbaugh family. To me, it’s kind of bittersweet to be on that side and root for them to lose, but this game, absolutely that’s going to be the case.”
Now that he’s had the chance to work with Harbaugh’s brother, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, he’s been able to see the differences between the two esteemed coaches in the national spotlight.
“The similarities are that they are all about hard work, dedication and having a positive attitude,” Akers said. “The difference is – just like any brothers – personalities are a little different. John’s probably a little bit more internalizing everything and more methodical. Jim’s very emotional and players feed off of that as well.”