Faced with similar kicking problems as the Packers, the 49ers signed Billy Cundiff to compete with struggling David Akers for their kicking job. The two have been in several kicking contests going back to last week, and it appears Akers won the battle and will kick against the Packers.
Akers, 38, recently revealed he had hernia surgery in the offseason. He had some residual soreness earlier in the year that required treatment, went through some struggles and hasn’t regained his confidence. This season he’s 29-for-42 (69 percent) and hit only 11 of his last 18 attempts, including going 2-for-4 in the regular-season finale. He’s also only 7-for-13 for the season from 40 to 49 yards. In the opener against the Packers, however, he tied the NFL record with a 63-yarder that hit the crossbar and bounced over on the last play of the first half.
Cundiff, 32, has made 75.5 percent of his career kicks. He was 7-for-12 in the first five games for Washington this season before coach Mike Shanahan cut him. Last season he was the kicker for Harbaugh’s brother, John, with the Baltimore Ravens but was cut at the end of training camp after missing a potential game-tying 32-yard field goal in the final seconds of a playoff loss against New England.
Andy Lee is one of the NFL’s premier punters and ranks No. 1 in the league in net average (43.2 yards) and No. 3 in gross average (48.1 yards). With Kyle Williams out for the season because of a knee injury, James is the primary kickoff returner and has the explosiveness to be dangerous in the open field (29.8-yard average). Ted Ginn is No. 11 in punt-return average (10.2 yards).