SANTA CLARA — Whatever Billy Cundiff did during his workout at Candlestick Park on Monday, it wasn't enough to wrest the 49ers kicking job away from David Akers. Coach Jim Harbaugh announced Thursday that Akers will be his placekicker for the NFC playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, ending a competition that dominated headlines for a week.
“Suffice it to say we feel confident in David giving us the best chance to win,” Harbaugh said, offering only the tersest of answers to follow-up questions on the subject.
The coach said that Cundiff will remain on the roster, but will “most likely not” be active for Saturday's game.
The decision was applauded by the 49ers players, many of whom were here last year when Akers made the Pro Bowl and set an NFL record with 166 points without a touchdown.
“Everybody has respect for what Dave is about, what he stands for,” backup quarterback Alex Smith said. “He's obviously gone through a rough patch. Happy to see him win the competition. I hope it gets him back on track.”
Akers has struggled throughout the 2012 season, making 22 of 34 attempts as he fought through recovery from a double hernia operation during the offseason. After he missed a pair of kicks in a season-ending victory over Arizona, the 49ers brought in Cundiff — who missed what would have been a game-tying kick for Baltimore, coached by John Harbaugh, in last year's AFC championship game — to compete for the job.
In the end, Akers won out.
“The talk about him missing kicks, the talk about the changes, I've always been with David,” cornerback Carlos Rogers said. “... He's just missed some kicks that were really important in certain spots. But a lot of people would take David over any kickers in the league.”
The 49ers' practice report was the same as Wednesday's, meaning defensive tackles Justin Smith (elbow, triceps) and Will Tukuafu (neck), linebackers Aldon Smith (shoulder) and Clark Haggans (shoulder), safety Dashon Goldson (shoulder), cornerback Tarell Brown (shoulder) and FB Bruce Miller (shoulder) were limited in practice.