Better red-zone offense means fewer short kicks for Akers


SANTA CLARA -- Kicker David Akers, who set an NFL record with 44 field goals last season, is not getting nearly as many easy chances as a year ago.And that's good news for a 49ers' offense that is significantly better inside the red zone.Akers had 30 field-goal attempts from inside 40 yards a year ago, as the 49ers scored touchdowns on just 40.7 percent of their trips inside the opponents' 20-yard line.This season, Akers has gotten a lot fewer "gimmes" with just seven attempts inside 40 yards. That's because the 49ers have improved dramatically inside the red zone, scoring touchdowns 61.5 of the time.Akers is making kicks at near the same rate in the 40-to-49 range. Akers made 6 of 11 attempts last season from 40 to 49 yards. (He was exceptional from beyond 50 yards, making 7 of 9 attemps.) This season, he is 6 of 10 on kicks from 40 to 49 yards.One of his misses from that range came in overtime Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. He missed wide left on a 41-yard attempt that could've won the game."I was just trying to smooth the kick and not over-kick it and I fell off the ball," Akers said. "That's why it went left. You assess each kick and do the best you can. Obviously, I didn't do what I needed to do at that time."Akers, 37, a 14-year veteran is accustomed to the ups and downs of life as an NFL kicker. But that does not make things any easier. Before he missed the kick in overtime, he sent the game into an extra 15 minutes with a 33-yarder in the final seconds of regulation. The 49ers and Rams ended in a 24-24 tie.
"I had one that tied the game and stopped us from losing," Akers said "And the other aspect when I had an opportunity to win the game, I didn't come through. So you go from one high to a low and that's not what you want to do. I want to win and I want people to feel good that I'm part of the team. I feel horrible for doing that."I'm trying my best. I can't really hang my head because of that. I try hard. I work hard. I put a lot of time and effort into this craft and it's been a little different than I'm used to."Here is Akers' accuracy inside 40 yards and beyond 40 yards over the past six seasons (prior to 2011, he kicked for the Philadelphia Eagles):Inside 40 yards
2012: 7 of 7 (100)
2011: 29 of 30 (96.7)
2010: 22 of 24 (91.7)
2009: 19 of 20 (95)
2008: 21 of 23 (91.3)
2007: 22 of 22 (100)40-plus yards
2012: 7 of 13 (53.8)
2011: 13 of 20 (65)
2010: 10 of 14 (71.4)
2009: 12 of 16 (75)
2008: 10 of 15 (66.7)
2007: 2 of 10 (20)

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