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)

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.

The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.

An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.

Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.

Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.

"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.

 

49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

SANTA CLARA -- General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan sat down with 49ers pass-rusher Aaron Lynch shortly after assuming their new roles to give him an outline of what was expected.

Aaron Lynch entered the NFL in 2014 as a fifth-round draft pick despite having the talent worthy of a much-earlier selection. There were concerns about his commitment and character.

Lynch showed plenty of promise in his first two seasons. He tied for the club lead both seasons with six and 6.5 sacks, respectively. Last year, Lynch reported to the offseason program 30 pounds overweight. He was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy of substances of abuse. Then, he missed considerable time with an ankle injury. In seven games, Lynch recorded just 1.5 sacks.

John Lynch and Shanahan told Aaron Lynch his past transgressions would not be held against him, but he had to work hard and prove himself. As Lynch enters the final year of his original four-year contract, his spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster is anything but a certainty.

“Basically, everybody on this team, no matter what has happened before you came into the league or when you’ve been in the league, they’re not holding that against you and it’s a new clean slate,” Lynch said. “So I need to do everything I can to make sure I have a clean slate with them.”

Lynch is currently working with the second unit at the “Leo” position on the 49ers’ defensive line, behind Arik Armstead.

“’Leo’ is a lot of damn fun, so, yeah, I like it a lot,” Lynch said. “You get to set the edge and go get the quarterback.”

Lynch said he is in better physical condition than he was a year ago at this time. He said his target playing weight is in the 260-270 range. He said he is currently in the 280s.

“I came in heavy, but I’ve been working my (butt) off to get down to where my coach wants me to get down to, and where I feel I would be best to give everything I can for my team and do what I can for my team,” Lynch said.

While the 49ers did not witness any improvement in Lynch's commitment at the beginning of the offseason, things seem to be turning around. Shanahan said Lynch has missed only one day of the team's voluntary offseason program -- an excused absence to deal with a situation concerning his wife.

“There’s no doubt Aaron’s going in the right direction for us," Shanahan said. "He came in in the offseason, we challenged him hard with just the way we worked and stuff. He hasn’t shied away from any of it. He’s jumped in on all of our stuff.

"So he’s gotten better each day. He’s gotten more in shape each day and I’m seeing it on the field each day.”