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.
Wide receivers Randall Cobb (illness) and Jordy Nelson (ankle) returned to practice for the Packers.
PAINT IT RED
In keeping with 49ers tradition, the end zones of Bill Walsh Field at Candlestick Park will be painted red for Saturday's postseason game.
"It's cool, very cool," Harbaugh said. "The end zones are red, this is different. And then there will be a time you look at a play or a cutup from the season on film or TV, you know that was a playoff game."
City Hall, Coit Tower and the Ferry Building clock tower all will be lit in 49ers colors this weekend, and Golden Gate Bridge toll-takers will be wearing Niners hats and T-shirts, provided by the team.
READY FOR BUSINESS
Several players said this was the 49ers' best week of practice all season.
"Just execution, energy, the focus — it was all there this week," safety Donte Whitner said. "It was lacking sometimes during the regular season, but if you know the 49ers, you know we're a team that lives to play on prime time."
The team will hold a walk-through today, though with no media access.
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