The 49ers and Packers meet this week at Candlestick Park with the winner moving on to face either Atlanta or Seattle for the NFC Championship.
With each of the teams’ regular-season kickers, David Akers and Mason Crosby, having been heavily scrutinized and been on the brink of being replaced, cut or benched by the court of (un)popular opinion, the game’s outcome could rest on their shoulders.
Both have had their share of disappointing field goal attempts this year, but to their credit both have persevered and continue to fight the demons of self-doubt and inconsistency.
Perennially, two of the better kickers in the game, this year has been anything but a masterpiece for either.
Last year, Akers ranked third in field goal percentage (85%) but dropped off to 69% missing 13 of 42 attempts this year.
Akers, for the first time in his career, missed more than ten field goals and for only the third time in his career did not kick 80% or better.
Crosby, for the Packers isn’t fairing much better, kicking at 64.7% - 22 of 34 attempts after a 2011 campaign kicking 86%.
The 49ers’ competition “is good for the team” philosophy is being revisited having brought in Billy Cundiff to compete against Akers.
“We’ll see how it goes today and tomorrow. With no set date or time frame on a conclusion,” coach Harbaugh said.
Adding, “accuracy in practice usually means accuracy in games.”
“We’ll also need to shore up other things like too much penetration and protection.” Harbaugh quickly added.
When asked by a reporter, “Will they both be on the roster come Saturday?”
“Yes, there’s a good chance.”
Cundiff, having last played for Washington, has a 75.5% career field goal success rate with five NFL teams.
Label it now as the game of kickers, which, is yet to be determined.