Better red-zone offense means fewer short kicks for Akers

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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)

49ers' director of college scouting hired as Packers scout

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49ers' director of college scouting hired as Packers scout

Matt Malaspina, who spent the past four years as the 49ers’ director of college scouting, has joined the Green Bay Packers’ player personnel department.

The Packers on Friday announced the hiring of Malaspina as a college scout.

Malaspina becomes the second high-ranking member of the 49ers’ scouting department to leave the organization this week. On Wednesday, the 49ers announced assistant general manager Tom Gamble was no longer with the organization.

Malaspina spent 12 years with the 49ers after being an area scout with the Seattle Seahawks for five seasons. Before moving into the position as the 49ers’ director of college scouting, Malaspina was a national scout with the 49ers. He was responsible for cross-checking the southeast region, as well as top prospects across the country.

Shortly after being hired as 49ers general manager, John Lynch hired Adam Peters as vice president of player personnel and former Detroit GM Martin Mayhew as senior personnel executive to become his top two assistants.

49ers could talk QB trades at scouting combine

49ers could talk QB trades at scouting combine

Four years ago at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, the 49ers agreed to the trade that sent quarterback Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Next week, the 49ers could have similar discussions. Only this time, they figure to be in the market to acquire a starting quarterback.

General manager John Lynch during an appearance this week on KNBR said he was excited about the talent he sees on the 49ers' offensive and defensive lines. But he made no secret of the organization’s intention to upgrade the quarterback position.

“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely,” Lynch said. “And we’re committed to doing that.”

Seven weeks before the 49ers can add a quarterback in the draft, the team will have ample opportunities to find a solution in the veteran market. Free agency and the trade window open for all NFL teams on March 9.

Free-agent quarterback Matt Schaub, who had his best seasons under Kyle Shanahan with the Houston Texans, is a logical, low-price option for the 49ers to add as a backup. Schaub attempted just three passes last season as Matt Ryan’s backup with the Atlanta Falcons.

The 49ers could solve their long-term quarterback need with a blockbuster trade to acquire Washington’s Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo from New England.

Shanahan was part of the Washington regime that drafted Cousins in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. Shanahan disclosed during Super Bowl week that he had a high draft grade on Garoppolo, whom he scouted in 2014 while with the Cleveland Browns.

Paraag Marathe, the 49ers’ chief strategy officer and executive vice president of football operations, intimated this week on “The 49ers Insider Podcast” he has provided the team’s decision-makers with information on previous trades.

“Here are all the other examples of when this position was traded for, and what people gave up to trade,” Marathe said. “That would establish the range for us if we are curious about a player at that position. And then we have a discussion from there.”

Cousins will be 29 next season, while Garoppolo, who has just two NFL starts, will be 26.

Here’s a look at the significant trades in the past decade that have involved quarterbacks acquired to take on starting roles:

2016
Sam Bradford, 29, from Philadelphia to Minnesota
--2017 first-round pick (No. 14 or 15)
--2018 fourth-round pick (TBD)

2013
Alex Smith, 29, from 49ers to Kansas City
--2013 second-round pick (No. 34)
--2014 second-round pick (No. 56)

2011
Carson Palmer, 32, from Cincinnati to Oakland
--2012 first-round pick (No. 17)
--2013 second-round pick (No. 37)

Kevin Kolb, 27, from Philadelphia to Arizona
--2012 second round pick (No. 51)
--CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

2010
Donovan McNabb, 34, from Philadelphia to Washington
--2010 second-round pick (No. 37)
--2010 fourth-round pick (No. 104)

2009
Jay Cutler, 26, and 2009 fifth-round pick (No. 140) from Denver to Chicago
--2009 first-round pick (No. 18)
--2009 third-round pick (No. 84)
--2010 first-round pick (No. 11)
--QB Kyle Orton

Matt Cassel, 27, and LB Mike Vrabel from New England to Kansas City
--2009 second-round pick (No. 34)

2007
Matt Schaub, 26, and 2007 first-round pick (No. 10) from Atlanta to Houston
--2007 first-round pick (No. 8)
--2007 second-round pick (No. 39)
--2008 second-round pick (No. 48)
Source: Pro Football Reference