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David Akers to Kick vs. Packers

Posted Jan 10, 2013

It didn’t take long for Jim Harbaugh to address the 49ers kicker situation on Thursday at team headquarters.

Within seconds of starting his press conference, a reporter asked Harbaugh who his kicker would be on Saturday when the 49ers host the Packers for a 5 p.m. PT kickoff.

His answer? David Akers.

“Suffice it to say,” Harbaugh said, “we feel confident in David giving us the best chance to win.”

Following the regular season finale against Arizona, a contest where Akers missed two first-half field goals, the team signed free agent kicker Billy Cundiff to a contract. The two veterans with postseason experience competed to be the starting kicker throughout the bye week and in to this week, but ultimately Akers did enough to keep his spot.

Harbaugh said Akers was a true professional and responded well to the late-season competition.

“Responded like a football player does,” Harbaugh said. “Competed and not really more to say about it.”

Harbaugh also revealed to reporters that Cundiff will be kept on the 53-man roster for the time being, but that he’ll likely be inactive for the Divisional Round.

Akers has admittedly struggled this season after making an NFL-record 44 field goals during the 2011 campaign. For the year, Akers made 29 of 42 field goals, making his 69 percent success rate the lowest in his 14-year career over the course of a full season.

The respected vet started off the season in Green Bay with a perfect 3 for 3 day in the 30-22 win, including an NFL record-tying 63-yard field goal as the first half expired. But 2012 was also remembered for missed opportunities, like each of the overtime field goals he missed in the tie to the Rams in Week 10 and the loss at St. Louis in Week 13.

“It’s been one of those up and down years,” Akers told reporters last week. “I would definitely give that 63-yarder back to make the two kicks against St. Louis.”

While Harbaugh didn’t want to speculate if the team would use Cundiff if potential playoff matchups down the road, he did complement Cundiff for competing with Akers on short notice.

“He’s done a nice job,” Harbaugh said of Cundiff. “David has done a better job and more prepared to give us the best chance to win. Can’t possibly think of anything more to say about it.”

With about 48 hours to go until the 49ers open the book on their 2012 postseason, Harbaugh was already chomping at the bit talking about the expected atmosphere at Candlestick Park. If the environment is anything like it was during the 2011 playoffs, Candlestick will be a loud fortress full of 49ers Faithful trying to will their team to its sixth Super Bowl title.

Harbaugh said he loves the 49ers tradition of painting the end zones red, but that there’s something more about the fabled stadium which comes alive in the postseason.

“The mystique, it’s a home field advantage for us,” Harbaugh said. “I really feel like our fans, especially, understand playoff time. And they paint those end zones red, there’s kind of a locking of the gates. And I feel like there’s 60-70,000 people that are on our side, fully on our side. It creates a tremendous home field advantage for us.”

When he was younger, Harbaugh was told by his father, Jack, to attack every day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. As his team prepares for its second straight postseason, it appears Harbaugh’s mentality has rubbed off on his players.

“I feel real good about the way our team prepared, the way they’ve studied for this test,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what it is, that’s what the meetings are, that’s what the practice sessions are. And go out and compete like maniacs.”

Harbaugh was even excited to hear that Huey Lewis and the News is scheduled to play the National Anthem, saying, “I’m an 80’s guy, sure. Quintessential 80s guy, that’s me.”

But when asked if he ever styled his hair in a mullet, which was widely popular in the 80s, Harbaugh said he’s had the same haircut since he’s been 10 years old.

“Business in the front, party in the back? I’ve never had that,” Harbaugh said of the mullet. “Same exact haircut. It’s never changed.”

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