Nationals

49ers sign kicker Cundiff to compete with Akers

49ers sign kicker Cundiff to compete with Akers

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The San Francisco 49ers signed kicker Billy Cundiff on Tuesday to compete with struggling veteran David Akers.

``He's thrilled with the opportunity to be in a position to help the team in any way he can this postseason,'' said Cundiff's agent, Paul Sheehy. ``It's a great opportunity, with a great organization.''

The team announced the move a day after coach Jim Harbaugh said that the NFC West champion Niners (11-4-1) - off this week as the NFC's No. 2 seed - planned to try out kickers because of Akers' prolonged funk.

Cundiff was released by the Washington Redskins on Oct. 9 after missing 5 of his 12 field goal attempts. He had already worked out once for the Niners on Nov. 27 before they invited him back this time, as Harbaugh initially chose to stick with Akers.

Now, Akers and Cundiff will compete to see who kicks in the team's NFC divisional playoff game in prime time Jan. 12 at Candlestick Park. San Francisco will play Green Bay, Seattle or Washington.

The 49ers cleared a spot on the 53-man roster for Cundiff by waiving linebacker Eric Bakhtiari. Players had Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off before returning to practice Thursday - so that will be the first look at both kickers together.

Cundiff spent the 2009-11 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, who are coached by Harbaugh's big brother, John. But Cundiff was cut after last season, when he 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.

Jim Harbaugh said Monday he might keep two kickers on the roster and open up a competition.

``If we had two on the roster at the same time, then they can kick in practice,'' Harbaugh said. ``And that's an option. That's a possibility. I think there are three options. We go forward with David. We bring in a new kicker. Or, we have two and let them compete for the job. We'll make that decision as we go.''

Akers, who made 44 of 52 attempts in his sensational 2011 season and first year with San Francisco, is just 29 for 42 this year. He is only 7 for 13 from 40-49 yards and missed wide left twice from that range in Sunday's 27-13 victory against Arizona in the regular-season finale.

The 38-year-old Akers signed a three-year contract as arguably the 49ers' biggest offseason acquisition ahead of the 2011 season, aside from the hiring of Harbaugh. And he delivered at nearly every opportunity - until recently.

He 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.

The 32-year-old Cundiff joins his sixth team in 10 NFL seasons. He has also played for Dallas, New Orleans and Cleveland.

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Nats hold Wild Card spot with win over Cardinals

Washington Nationals Roundup: Nats hold Wild Card spot with win over Cardinals

As the wild-card race continues to heat up, the Washington Nationals did themselves a favor with a Tuesday night win over the St. Louis Cardinals. The win kept the Nats in sole place of the first wild-card spot, only 1.5 games above the Cubs and Brewers. 

Here are the latest news and notes.

Player Notes:

1B Howie Kendrick was superb, hitting a triple and homer while scoring two runs of his own. Meanwhile, SP Patrick Corbin reached double-digit strikeouts in six innings pitched for the first time since July in a great performance on the mound. C Kurt Suzuki reportedly felt good after swinging a bat before the Tuesday game. He was injured Sept. 7 and is hopeful to return next week.

Injuries:

C Spencer Kieboom, elbow, 60-Day IL, 2020

C Kurt Suzuki, elbow, sidelined, day-to-day

RP Joe Ross, arm, sidelined, day-to-day

RP Roenias Elias, arm, sidelined, day-to-day

RP Austen Williams, arm, 60-Day IL, out indefinitely

1B Matt Adams, shoulder, sidelined, day-to-day

RP John Venters, shoulder, 60-Day IL, 2020

RP Koda Golder, elbow, 60-Day IL, out indefinitely

Coming Up:

Wednesday, Sept. 18: Nats at Cardinals, 1:15 p.m. at Busch Stadium

Friday, Sept. 20: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. at Marlins Park

Saturday, Sept. 21: Nats at Marlins, 6:10 p.m. at Marlins Park

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Orioles Roundup: Baltimore falls to Toronto, 8-5

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Orioles Roundup: Baltimore falls to Toronto, 8-5

The Baltimore Orioles lost the first of their penultimate home series for the season 8-5 to the Toronto Blue Jays Tuesday night. 

Here are the latest player news and notes.

Player Updates:

OF Mason Williams crashed hastily into the back wall trying to prevent a Blue Jays score in the top of the ninth. It was 2B Cavan Biggio's line drive that ended up as a two-run triple to give the Blue Jays some cushion. That triple helped Biggio complete the cycle. Austin Hays replaced Williams while he was checked for a concussion. 

X-Ray tests came back negative for DH Renato Nunez after his left hand was hit by a pitch in Monday's loss to the Tigers. He could be back Wednesday. 

Injuries

DH Mark Trumbo, shoulder, sidelined, day-to-day

RP Hunter Harvey, biceps, sidelined, day-to-day

RP Josh Rogers, elbow, 60-Day IL, out indefinitely 

SP Alex Cobb, back, 60-Day IL, 2020

Coming Up:

Wednesday, 9/18: Blue Jays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Camden Yards

Thursday, 9/19: Blue Jays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Camden Yards

Friday, 9/19: Mariners at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Camden Yards

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