Even Akers' record-tying kick was a group effort


Even Akers' record-tying kick was a group effort

GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- David Akers' name will go in the NFL record book again.And in the ultimate team victory on Sunday, the 49ers' kicker knows he could not have gotten his opportunity to boot a 63-yard field goal on the final play of the first half without some well-timed contributions from Kyle Williams and backup quarterback Colin Kaeperick."Some of that stuff gets overlooked," Akers said in the aftermath of the 49ers' 30-22 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field.Williams' season ended last season with heartbreak after his two turnovers on punt returns were critical plays in the 49ers' loss to the New York Giants in the NFC championship game. But he came through as a punt returner on Sunday with Ted Ginn out with an ankle injury.Williams played a key role in a sequence in which Akers kicked two field goals in the final 55 seconds of the first half to give the 49ers a 16-7 halftime lead. Williams returned a Tim Masthay punt 20 yards to give the 49ers the ball at their own 38 with :18 remaining in the half."First, the defense came up with a big stop after we put the field goal on the board," Williams said. "At first, we were looking at a situation where we might just fair-catch it."But then coach (special teams coordinator Brad) Seely came over and said, 'No, try to run it back. Let's try to get something out of this.' He (Masthay) put it out there and gave me some space. I did what I could with it. I still think I could've broken a tackle and gotten a little more."After the 49ers took over, Kaepernick entered in place of Alex Smith and kept the ball for a 17-yard gain to the Green Bay 45."(We) put that play in for Kaep, a quarterback draw," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Kyle set it up with the punt return. A lot of good things had to happen, starting with the punt return. Kyle made a good play on that. And then Kaep makes the big run."Akers, who made a kick from 61-yards out in warmups, was sent out to attempt a 63-yard field goal. His trajectory on the kick was lower because of the distance it had to travel. The blocking held up, and long-snapper Brian Jennings and holder Andy Lee were perfect.
"I didn't think I hit it that great," Akers said. "If I'd hit it like I hit the 43-yarder, it would've gotten over without hitting the crossbar. We did knock down the elevation to give it the chance of getting there."Akers, who set the NFL record with 44 field goals last season, earlier made kicks of 40 and 43 yards. His 63-yarder hit the crossbar and tumbled over."The bounce and going through was some of the craziest stuff I've seen in football," Williams said. "I think that was huge for us going into the half, being able to go up 16-7."Akers became the fourth player in NFL history to kick a 63-yard field goal, joining Tom Dempsey (1970), Jason Elam (1998) and Sebastian Janikowski (2011)."I was actually speechless," said Akers, a 14-year veteran. "It was a career day to be able to do something like that."

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end Vance McDonald became aware of a report the 49ers had engaged in trade talks involving him at his brother’s wedding in Austin, Texas.

But McDonald said he did not give it much thought because he had another immediate priority.

“I still had my best man’s speech to do,” McDonald said.

Later that evening during last month's draft, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan called McDonald to keep him in the loop. There was no trade, and McDonald returned to Santa Clara on Monday to continue participation in the 49ers’ offseason program.

“The first thing I told him was, ‘Man, there aren’t a lot of coaches that would do this,’” McDonald said of his talk with Shanahan. “He just wanted to fill me in.”

Nearly four weeks later, it is as if nothing ever happened.

“The only trade discussions we had was when another team asked us about Vance on draft day,” Shanahan said this week. “And after a team asked us about Vance then we asked other teams if they’d be interested in that same thing.”

McDonald said he completely understood why the 49ers would check with other teams around the league to see what they could acquire in a trade.

“Basically, it’s just like any other team in the NFL would do,” McDonald said. “If you’re a 2-14 team, obviously, there are a lot of things you can improve on, a lot of spots that need to be filled. There are a lot of things you need to improve upon in the offseason. So if teams are going to call and inquire about you, then obviously the next step is to … call around to every other team.

“So that’s exactly what happened to me. It isn’t like they don’t want me here. There was never a lack of communication on any level.”

Even before he knew his immediate future with the 49ers, McDonald said he tried to maintain the proper state of mind.

“I had the mindset this isn’t going to change anything,” McDonald said. “I’m going to end up where I end up and I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing, which is do everything to be a better football player.”

McDonald enters the fifth year of his NFL career after signing a new deal in December that amounts to a three-year, $19.7 million extension. Three days later, the 49ers placed McDonald on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

McDonald was on pace for his best season as a pass-catcher. In 11 games, he had 24 receptions for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

Now, he is competition for a spot in the 49ers’ offense, along with fifth-round draft pick George Kittle, undrafted rookie Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

McDonald said he likes what Shanahan has brought to the 49ers, including added responsibilities of the tight end position.

“Last year, all we talked about was how fast our pace was,” McDonald said. “With Kyle, it’s insanely quick. He’s a very detailed guy. It’s interesting to hear him present information. You try to apply it and play with the same mindset that he has. It’s a task that we all enjoy doing.

“We (tight ends) are the end of the line. There’s communication with us and the wide receivers and running backs. We’re also in command with receiving corps. There are a lot of things on our plate. Hopefully, this doesn’t get back to the wide receivers, but we’re supposed to be smarter than them. It’s a fun job to have. We don’t try to rub it in too much.”

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly is back in college football.

The former Oregon coach, who served as 49ers head coach last season, signed a multiyear deal as an ESPN analyst, the network announced Friday morning. He will work predominantly on pre-games, halftimes and in studio wraps each Saturday on ESPN2.

“Over the last 30 years, I have experienced football from one perspective – as a coach,” Kelly said in a statement. “Working in television will allow me to see the game from a different angle; simultaneously, I‘ll provide viewers an insight to the mindset of a coach and team while offering alternative views of various situations.

“Once I decided to make the move to TV, my familiarity with ESPN, combined with their high-quality production and vital role in college football, it was easily the best network suited for me.”

Kelly, 53, was fired on the evening of the 49ers’ season finale. The 49ers went 2-14 under Kelly and set the franchise record with 13 consecutive losses. Their only victories came against the Los Angeles Rams. Kelly also auditioned with FOX for the analyst job vacated when John Lynch became 49ers general manager, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area.

Kelly served as Oregon’s head coach from 2009 to ’12. His teams compiled a record of 46-7. Under Kelly, the Ducks advanced to the 2011 national championship game, losing to Auburn 22-19.

Kelly won the AP College Football Coach of the Year. He twice won the Pac-10 coach of the year. He left Oregon to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. After his first two NFL teams went 10-6, Kelly was fired in 2015 with one game remaining in the season. The Eagles were 6-9 at the time of Kelly's firing.

“Chip is one of the most innovative football minds of our generation,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting said. “As a coach, he saw the game from a unique perspective, never afraid to take an unconventional approach. We want him to bring that mentality to our college football coverage each week, offering fans a varying viewpoint outside of the conventional thought process.”