49ers

Akers hits NFL 'hole in one,' books flight to Canton

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Akers hits NFL 'hole in one,' books flight to Canton

SANTA CLARA -- The Pro Football Hall of Fame wants David Akers' shoe, but the 49ers' placekicker isn't quite done nailing field goals with in, so Canton will have to make do with a trade.

Akers made NFL history when his 63-yard field goal before halftime of the 49ers' win Sunday clanged off the post and through the uprights; he joined Tom Dempsey (1970), Jason Elam (1998) and Sebastian Janikowski (2011) as the only kickers to accomplish a successful attempt from such a distance.

Akers, who likened the opportunity to hitting a hole in one as a golfer, referred to the kick as his "own little miracle." Off his foot, he didn't think he hit it right, and was expecting to come up short. His fears looked to be realized when the ball hit the post.

"Most of my kicks that have hit the post in years past," Akers explained, "Make that lovely sound like we heard, and then it comes bouncing back onto the field.

"Alright, that's going to be great. You hit it 63 (yards) and you came up an inch short."

MAIOCCO: Even Akers' record-tying kick was a group effort

This time, though, the football gods were with Akers as the ball continued on its path through the uprights, securing him -- or at least his shoe -- in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Akers can do with the prized football as he pleases. He had the ball in the 49ers locker room on Tuesday, although it won't be around for long. It is being sent directly to Canton, Ohio for temporary enshrinement in Pro Football Hall of Fame's "Hall of Fame Now" display.

"Going to Canton," Akers explained when asked where the ball was. "That's pretty cool."

The Hall of Fame wants the shoe that Akers used on the kick, but it's -- clearly -- well worked in and he's not ready to part with it. Akers will begin to work in another shoe so that he can give the Hall what they want. After the season, the ball will be returned to Akers. The shoe, though, will eventually live in Canton for years to come. Fair trade.

Akers doesn't expect to attempt too many more from that distance, but it is a distance he practices from, both in Santa Clara -- where the team uses skinny uprights -- and before games.

"We hit 60 going that way and hit 59 going the other way (in warmups)," Akers said. "I usually stop at midfield and see if I have the distance. Did I strike it well? Did it go in? Or did I just not have a chance? We had plenty to make on both sides."

While it was Akers who will go down in history, he was quick to credit the offensive line, who held the Packers back and gave him the required pocket to get off what he described as his "three iron." Indeed, the feet was a team effort.

Large group of Colin Kaepernick supporters demonstrate outside NFL offices

Large group of Colin Kaepernick supporters demonstrate outside NFL offices

NEW YORK -- Supporters of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the national anthem to protest police brutality against blacks, showed their solidarity with him and his cause at a rally outside the headquarters of the National Football League on Wednesday.

More than 1,000 people, many wearing jerseys bearing Kaepernick's name, crowded the steps outside the NFL's midtown Manhattan offices.

Kaepernick, who once took the 49ers to the Super Bowl, opted out of his contract with the team in March and remains unsigned. Supporters say he is being blackballed for his advocacy, but some critics say he should not have sat or kneeled during the anthem or contend his lack of a job is more about his on-field talent.

Chants at the demonstration included "Boycott! Boycott!" Women's March organizer Tamika Mallory, addressing football fans, said, "I don't care how long you've been watching football, if they don't stand up for your children, turn the damn TV off."

Political commentator Symone Sanders said, "We are all standing with Kaepernick. It is time for the NFL to put up or shut up."

Earlier Wednesday, the NAACP called for a meeting with the NFL to discuss the fate of Kaepernick, who was born to a white woman and a black man but was adopted by a white couple. The civil rights organization's interim president, Derrick Johnson, said in a letter to the NFL's commissioner, Roger Goodell, that it's apparently "no sheer coincidence" that Kaepernick isn't on a roster.

"No player should be victimized and discriminated against because of his exercise of free speech - to do so is in violation of his rights under the Constitution and the NFL's own regulations," Johnson said.

The NAACP's state president in New York, Hazel Dukes, said: "Right now, the action of the league seems to imply to young black men that this league, which is comprised of 70 percent African-Americans, only values black lives if they are wearing a football uniform."

Goodell has said the league isn't blackballing Kaepernick.

Some other players followed Kaepernick's actions last season, and some are doing so in this year's pre-season. On Monday, a group of Cleveland Browns players prayed in silent protest during the national anthem. Among those kneeling was a white player, Seth DeValve. Another white player, Britton Colquitt, did not kneel but kept his hand on the shoulder of a teammate who did.

That protest earned the ire of an Ohio Supreme Court justice, the lone Democrat holding an Ohio statewide office. Justice Bill O'Neill wrote on Facebook that he wouldn't attend any games at which "draft dodging millionaire athletes disrespect the veterans who earned them the right to be on that field."

"Shame on you all," he said.

49ers activate Jimmie Ward

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AP

49ers activate Jimmie Ward

SANTA CLARA -- Safety Jimmie Ward was cleared Wednesday morning to begin practicing with his teammates after missing nearly four weeks of training camp with a hamstring injury.

Ward underwent conditioning tests on Monday and Tuesday to complete the final hurdles before the club activated him off the physically unable to perform list.

Ward sustained a hamstring injury during the conditioning test on the eve of training camp.

Ward was moved to cornerback last season, where he started 10 games.

He finished the season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. He was the 49ers' primary nickel back in his first two NFL seasons.

Jaquiski Tartt originally took over at free safety at the beginning of camp. But after Tartt missed significant practice time with a ribs injury, undrafted rookie Lorenzo Jerome stepped in.

Jerome started the 49ers’ first two exhibition games at free safety.