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Notebook: David Akers Perfect in Denver

Posted Aug 26, 2012

The ageless one did it again. And then four times after that.

David Akers may be 37 years old, but he showed why he’s still one of the NFL’s top kickers on Sunday, connecting on five field goals to help the 49ers claim a 29-24 comeback win in Denver.

The Broncos jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, but the 49ers kept chipping away. The comeback started with a 44-yard Vernon Davis touchdown grab and ended with a 44-yard field goal from Akers in the closing minutes.

It may have been a little too close for comfort, but Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers left the Mile High City as victors.

“Keep striving to get it right,” Harbaugh said. “Several positives and several things to clean up and get better at.”

Akers knocked his first field goal attempt – a 33-yarder – just over the left upright to cut the 49ers deficit to 17-10 early in the second quarter. His last four tries came in the second half, accounting for the final 12 of 19 unanswered points the 49ers scored to close out the game.

Perfect games are nothing new to Akers, who had 11 of them last year en route to setting NFL single-season records in field goals made (44) and points without a touchdown (166). In all, Akers nailed field goals from 33, 45, 21, 32 and 44 yards out, scoring more than half of the 49ers points on the afternoon.

As the defense clamped down in the second half, shutting out the Broncos for the final 30 minutes of the game, the San Francisco reserves gained some momentum on offense.

Third-year tailback Anthony Dixon emerged as the team’s top offensive weapon as he jockeys for position in the crowded San Francisco backfield. Dixon carried the ball 13 times for a game-high 58 yards, including his 26-yard touchdown romp in the third quarter.

With rosters being cut from 90 players to 75 on Monday, Dixon made a strong statement to his teammates and coaches on Sunday.

“For some of the guys, this is going to be our last time playing together,” Dixon said. “I just wanted to do it for them. … We became brothers. We went through training camp together, we went through the ups and downs, the pain, the aches.”

Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter combined for six early carries in the game, but it was Dixon who proved to be the workhorse. Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James didn’t see any action, either, giving Dixon the spotlight in the all-important third preseason game.

Dixon has primarily been used in short-yardage situations under Harbaugh’s staff, but showed he can handle the responsibilities of an every-down back. The 6-foot-1, 233-pound bruiser displayed his physical style and flashed his speed, but he’s still working to lock up a spot on the 53-man roster by Week 1.

“I won’t go that far to say I’ve done enough,” Dixon said. “I’m always trying to get better.”

Kyle Williams Shows All-Around Game

Kyle Williams was pressed into punt return duties on Sunday when Ted Ginn Jr. went down with an ankle injury in the third quarter. Following the game, Harbaugh said X-rays on Ginn’s ankle were negative.

In Ginn’s place, Williams was nothing but positive. Whether it was special teams or offense, it seemed Williams had a hand in several big plays throughout the afternoon.

“He’s definitely one of those guys who’s in the hard-working category,” Harbaugh said. “It seemed like a full game. A lot of action for Kyle, he played very well. He played good in the return game and on the offensive side of the ball.”

Williams provided the longest play of the afternoon in the third quarter, when he ran a crisp curl route and caught a Colin Kaepernick pass, before dashing down the left sideline past cornerback Drayton Florence for a 46-yard gain. Williams racked up 30 yards in his three punt returns, while also forcing a fumble as a gunner on the punt coverage team late in the fourth quarter.

Following the game, the Arizona State alum reunited with three of his former college teammates on the Broncos: Brock Osweiler, Gerell Robinson and Omar Bolden.

Double Duty

Dixon’s touchdown run wouldn’t have been possible without some big-time blocks from the teammates in front of him. Defensive lineman Will Tukuafu was lined up as a fullback on Dixon’s score, punishing his opponent on the left edge of the offensive line for one of his many mauling blocks on the afternoon.

Like Tukuafu, Demarcus Dobbs played in all three phases of the game on Sunday, lining up as a tight end and a defensive end. For young players like Tukuafu and Dobbs fighting for roster spots, versatility is always good to have.

“Hard-working game for Will on both sides of the ball,” Harbaugh said.

Tukuafu also provided some highlights on defense, especially with his second-quarter sack of Caleb Hanie that forced a fumble. Dobbs nearly recovered the loose ball, but Hanie was able to snatch it back just in time.

Veteran guard Leonard Davis – all 6-foot-6, 375 pounds of him – also had a change of scenery on Sunday, as he lined up as a tight end for select plays as part of the 49ers jumbo package.

“A lot of improvement for Leonard today,” Harbaugh said. “Coming off the ball, his pad level, he had some physical plays. I thought he got in a rhythm and he was in sync today. Just better.”

Quarterback Quartet

Alex Smith turned in another solid performance in the preseason, going 5 of 7 for 69 yards and a touchdown. It was the latest outing in an efficient preseason when Smith has completed 13 of 19 passes for 134 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Kaepernick, the team’s No. 2 quarterback behind Smith, also had an effective day under center, going 4 of 4 for 80 yards and picking up 11 rushing yards on two carries. Kaepernick showed some moxie on a broken play in the third quarter, when he was flushed from the pocket and made a nice running throw to Konrad Reuland for a 16-yard gain.

“He operated well,” Harbaugh said. “He got us in and out of the huddle and got our team moving. I thought he played with poise and was cool. I think it was a positive step for Colin.”

For now, there is still a tight battle for the third-string quarterback. Scott Tolzien entered the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter and led the 49ers on a nine-play drive that culminated with a 32-yard field goal from Akers.

Josh Johnson took over on San Francisco’s next drive, marching the 49ers on a seven-play series that ended with a 44-yard conversion from Akers. Following the game, Harbaugh said it’s still too close to call the No. 3 quarterback position.

“Still playing out,” Harbaugh said. “It’s real tight. They both have done some really good things. We’re not ready to make that call yet.”

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