NCAA

Akers, Cundiff both could be on playoff roster

Akers, Cundiff both could be on playoff roster

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) David Akers and Billy Cundiff were taking their competition to be San Francisco's playoff kicker to Candlestick Park on Monday.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said there's a ``good chance'' both kickers will be on the roster for Saturday's NFC divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, though he didn't specify whether each would be among the 46 active players but did say ``that's conceivable.'' Harbaugh indicated one of the two has already earned a lead for the job but wouldn't say who it is.

The 49ers (11-4-1) signed Cundiff on Jan. 1 to compete for a job with the struggling veteran Akers, who has made just 29 of 42 field goals this season after connecting on 44 of 52 in 2011.

``No, not a resolution. We have a leader in the clubhouse,'' Harbaugh said as his players returned to work after taking the weekend off. ``We'll see how it goes today and tomorrow. It's been good competition. We're working through it.''

Cundiff missed a potential tying 32-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the AFC championship game that sent New England to the Super Bowl last season instead of the Baltimore Ravens, coached by Harbaugh's big brother, John.

Harbaugh said he has no timetable for when to name a starting kicker. The leader emerged from two practice sessions last week.

``It will predominantly be based on how they're kicking now,'' Harbaugh said. ``I think there's a good chance they'll both be on the roster come Saturday.''

Akers missed overtime kicks twice against the Rams this season, with the 49ers losing at St. Louis and tying at home.

In a 27-13 victory against Arizona in the regular-season finale Dec. 30, Akers missed wide left on kicks from 44 and 40 yards and got booed by the sellout home crowd.

The 15th-year pro also had a 21-yard attempt blocked by Red Bryant in a 42-13 loss at Seattle on Dec. 23, and Richard Sherman returned it 90 yards for a touchdown. Yet Akers has made at least one field goal in 33 consecutive games, the second-longest such streak in NFL history.

Cundiff was released by the Washington Redskins on Oct. 9 after missing five of his 12 field goal attempts. The journeyman Cundiff joins his sixth team in 10 NFL seasons. He has also played for Dallas, New Orleans and Cleveland.

Punter Andy Lee, who is the holder on field goals, has long supported Akers in the good moments and also through the missed field goals.

Now, he must put his personal feelings aside.

``I've got to do my job, because I know if other things were going on and somebody could affect the way I play, I wouldn't want that happening,'' Lee said. ``So I've just got to swallow everything I have inside me and go out and do whatever I can to help each guy the best I can.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Report: Former Terp Diamond Stone included in federal documents detailing NCAA violations

Report: Former Terp Diamond Stone included in federal documents detailing NCAA violations

A bombshell article published Friday morning by Pat Forde and Pete Thaamel of YAHOO Sports details potential NCAA violations involving more than 20 schools and 25 players.

Among some of the biggest names and programs in college basketball includes former Maryland Terrapin, Diamond Stone.

According to documents and bank records that are part of an FBI investigation, Stone received $14,303 while a freshman at Maryland, a clear violation of NCAA rules. 

Former NBA agent, Andy Miller and his former associate, Christian Dawkins of ASM Sports were dishing out the incentives. Included were cash advances, entertainment expenses and travel expenses for high school and college prospects.

Other player's included in the documents include Dennis Smith who played at North Carolina State, Isaiah Whitehead from Seton Hall, DeMatha star Markelle Fultz who played at Washington and Edrice Adebayo who went on to play at Kentucky. 

Player's and their families from Duke, Michigan State, USC, North Carolina, Texas and Alabama are also included.

Stone played for the Terps during the 2015-16 season before declaring for the NBA draft. He was selected 40th overall by the New Orleans Pelicans and traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Stone did end up signing with a different agency.

While this is still under investigation, large consequences for the NCAA can be expected.

The NCAA released this statement following the news. 

These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America. Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules. Following the Southern District of New York's indictments last year, the NCAA Board of Governors and I formed the independent Commission on College Basketball, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, to provide recommendations on how to clean up the sport. With these latest allegations, it's clear this work is more important now than ever. The Board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity. We also will continue to cooperate with the efforts of federal prosecutors to identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.

RELATED: DIAMOND STONE ADMITS TO 'MISTAKES' DURING FRESHMAN YEAR AT MARYLAND

Quick Links

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

usatsi_10625303.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!