Better red-zone offense means fewer short kicks for Akers


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)

Shanahan: Beathard's play will have 'a ton' of influence on future decisions


Shanahan: Beathard's play will have 'a ton' of influence on future decisions

SANTA CLARA – While rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard is taking a micro view of his promotion, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is not shy about admitting he is looking at the big picture.

Shanahan said how Beathard performs after replacing Brian Hoyer as starting quarterback will have “a ton” of influence on how the 49ers proceed during the offseason.

After all, the 49ers know every position will come under tremendous scrutiny as the organization looks to add the pieces that will make the club competitive.

“That’s for every position. That’s for every player on our team. That’s for every coach on our team,” Shanahan said. “We’re 0-6, and that’s extremely tough. But I’m extremely excited about this place and excited about where we’re at and where we’re going. There’s not a moment that I don’t waste thinking about that stuff.”

Beathard will make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium.

Hoyer failed in his bid to earn consideration as the 49ers’ quarterback for the remainder of this season and beyond during his six starts. Hoyer completed just 58 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and four interceptions. His passer rating was 74.1.

Now, Beathard gets his chance. But he said he is not thinking about the big picture and what it might mean for the future.

“I’m really just trying to take it one day, one week at a time,” Beathard said. “I’m not looking that far ahead. Right now, my focus is on today’s practice and geared towards beating the Cowboys and doing the best we can to get better and improve.”

Beathard was pressed into action last week when Hoyer’s struggles continued at Washngton. Beathard stepped in and completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards with a touchdown and an interception. For the first time, Beathard is getting the first-team practice snaps with a game plan that is designed specifically for him.

Said Beathard, “Getting those extra reps, reps with guys that you don’t usually throw to, in the huddle with the guys that are out there, I think it’ll help a lot.”

Joe Montana: Dwight Clark appreciates all the support from former teammates


Joe Montana: Dwight Clark appreciates all the support from former teammates

More than 35 players from the 49ers’ first Super Bowl champion will be in attendance on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium to show support for Dwight Clark, who revealed in March he was diagnosed with ALS.

Clark, 60, will have ample opportunity to reconnect with some of his old friends on Saturday evening and again on Sunday. At halftime, Joe Montana, surrounded by most of the 49ers' 1981 team, will introduce Clark before a video tribute.

Clark is also expected to make some remarks while situated in a suite for the 49ers’ game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Montana and his wife, Jennifer, have remained in close contact with Clark and his wife, Kelly. The Clarks recently watched the Blue Angels in San Francisco with the Montanas during Fleet Week.

“He’s getting pretty inundated with everyone staying in touch with him at this point,” Montana said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

“It’s fun for him. At one point, he was telling his wife, Kelly, ‘This is what it’s all about. This is what I want and what I miss, seeing the guys.’ So any of the guys reaching out to him, he surely appreciates it.”

Montana said Clark has not lost his positive outlook or his sense of humor, as evidenced by some not-fit-for-print words he recently had about his wheelchair. Montana said there are always some good laughs and stories any time Clark gets together with his friends.

“That’s the fun part," Montana said. “You just try to get him to forget what’s there, and that you’re there for him whenever. I think the support is the biggest thing right now. In that stage of ALS, it's got to be getting tough, where all of a sudden, things are becoming more and more difficult.”