49ers notebook: After missed FG Akers keeps job, for now
Published: Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 10:46 p.m.
ATLANTA — The 49ers are going to New Orleans. But is David Akers?
The struggling placekicker suffered another setback in San Francisco's 28-24 win, missing a 38-yard field-goal attempt in the third quarter that would have tied the game. Kicking off smooth artificial turn, with no breeze except for the Georgia Dome air conditioning, Akers bounced the ball off the left upright.
“Three inches to the right, and I would have had a perfect game today,” Akers said afterward. “I had touchbacks, real deep balls so they couldn't get returns. Felt really good going out and kicking the ball. ... Again, one of those things where I keep scratching my head, you know?”
After Akers' inconsistent regular season, the 49ers brought in castoff Billy Cundiff to compete for the kicking duties. They kept both kickers on the roster for two weeks, but cut Cundiff on Friday and left the job in Akers' hands.
And now? Who knows?
“I'm here till they tell me otherwise,” Akers said.
His teammates continue to back him. “Dave, he's a veteran,” linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. “He's been in this league. We know he's a great kicker. We don't get down on our teammates.”
THE OTHER SIDE OF KAEPERNICK
A week ago, Colin Kaepernick set a record for rushing yards by a quarterback, churning out 181 against the befuddled Green Bay Packers. The 49ers didn't run as many read-option plays against Atlanta, and when they did, the Falcons did a great job of squeezing the ends and forcing Kaepernick to hand off.
His ground numbers Sunday: two carries, 21 yards.
“Only two, huh?” right guard Alex Boone asked. “Frank (Gore) probably wanted the ball more. Frank probably just kept taking it from him.”
And yet no one could say the Falcons shut down Kaepernick. He made the right decisions, moved well in the pocket when pressured, and completed 16 of 21 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. Not bad considering the 49ers played out of a 17-0 deficit.
“Going out on the field frantic isn't going to help you score points,” Kaepernick said. “You have to stay calm."
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
The Georgia Dome fans started out raucous, got impossibly loud when their team staked a 17-point lead and didn't rest their vocal chords much for the entire game. It was as loud a crowd as you'll hear, and it did cause the 49ers some problems.
Late in the game, for example, the Niners were trying to pick up a first down and run out the clock, but center Jonathan Goodwin didn't get Kaepernick's signals and failed to snap the ball before the play clock expired. San Francisco punted three plays later, giving the Falcons one last (unsuccessful) shot at a miracle.
All in all, though, the 49ers held up well in the cacophony.
“I think G-Ro (offensive coordinator Greg Roman) had a great plan of how to beat some of the crowd noise, getting on the ball,” Goodwin said. “And my guards did a great job of passing me stuff because they knew it would be harder for me to hear without the quarterback right behind me. So hats off to everybody.”
Speaking to the media for the first time since it was reported that the San Francisco Police Department is investigating Michael Crabtree for a reported sexual assault, coach Jim Harbaugh declined comment on the matter, other than to say the 49ers supported the wide receiver.
Team CEO Jed York said it was not his decision to play Crabtree against the Falcons.
“He's cooperating with those guys, and if there was an issue, the San Francisco PD or anybody else would have said something, and there was no issue from their standpoint,” York said. “They're the ones conducting the investigation, not me.”
The alleged assault occurred after the playoff victory over Green Bay on Jan. 12.
The 49ers' 17-point comeback was the second-largest ever in a conference championship game, trailing only Indianapolis' 18-point swing against New England in 2008.
The 49ers snapped a five-game postseason road losing streak that dated back to Jan. 8, 1989.
Kaepernick's 76.2 completion percentage against the Falcons ranks third in franchise history.
RB LaMichael James scored his first NFL touchdown. He's the first 49ers rookie to score a TD in the postseason since FB William Floyd on Jan. 7, 1995.
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