David Akers finds his 'Mini-Me' with Tavecchio


David Akers finds his 'Mini-Me' with Tavecchio

SANTA CLARA -- Giorgio Tavecchio's path was set. His plan was to play soccer at UC Davis. But, then, he received the most unexpected of phone calls.

"I didn't get any bites for football," Tavecchio said. "Nobody else was talking to me about football. Cal, out of the blue called and said, 'Hey, we have a walk-on spot for you.'

"I still remember the date: May 28, 2008, 4:01 p.m. That's the minute my life changed."

There's another important date in Tavecchio's life. It was May 2, 2012 -- exact hour and minute, unknown.

That's when the kicker signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent. And that's when he was locked into the fortunate role of veteran David Akers' understudy.

"It's been a blessing. From a kicking standpoint, we're very similar. We're both lefties and we have the same kind of technique," Tavecchio said.

"In the past couple of years when I got more into football and started watching the NFL, I noticed this really good lefty from Philly who was nailing kicks. When I realized my path was going to end up here in San Francisco, I knew he'd be here. The more I looked into him and talked to people about him, I kept hearing fantastic things. He has far exceeded all my expectations, as far as being a great kicker but also a really good person off the field."

Akers, who enters his 14th NFL season, is a six-time Pro Bowl selection. He set the NFL single-season record a year ago with 44 field goals and most points (166) without a touchdown.Obviously, Akers' status with the 49ers has never been in doubt. But Akers said he believes Tavecchio will some day find regular employment in the NFL.

"He reminds me a lot of me," Akers said. "He came in real green. He has a good leg. He's worked on his craft. He's improved. He still has to kind of figure out the games and put the professionalism into it. But that's a process you learn from."

Akers originally signed with the Carolina Panthers an undrafted free agent in 1997. Akers credits veteran kicker John Kasay for providing him with as much assistance as possible. The next year with the Atlanta Falcons, Akers continued to learn as a camp kicker behind Morten Andersen. After also getting released by the Washington Redskins, Akers moved on to Philadelphia, where he continued to learn from kicker Norm Johnson and punter Sean Landeta.

"Those are some big-time specialists in NFL history," Akers said. "Those guys really poured out to me, so I felt like it was my duty to do that with Giorgio and I feel like he's really responded. I feel like I have a little 'Mini-Me' here."

Coach Jim Harbaugh observes that Tavecchio is taking full advantage of his association with Akers.

"He's done just what he should be doing and that is being in David's hip pocket, asking him questions, watching every stroke that David puts on the ball, every conversation that David has with the holder and the snapper," Harbaugh said.

"He's been a sponge in that regard. He has grown exponentially. He is an outstanding kicker and a lot of that has been from being around David and (special-teams coordinator) Brad Seely this offseason."

Tavecchio played 46 games at Cal and finished his career with 256 points to rank fifth on the school's all-time scoring list and fourth among kickers. He made 48 of 64 (75 percent) field-goal attempts and 112 of his 120 (93.3 percent) extra-point tries in his career.

"It was such a blessing to go to school there," Tavecchio said. "I grew every year, through the struggles and successes. That's why I love football. I feel like I grew a lot and I hope to grow a lot moving forward."

Tavecchio knows what it's like to do a lot of moving. His mother, Gabriella, worked for the U.S. Government. His father, Renato, restored antique furniture in Italy. They met when her furniture was damaged in a move to Italy.

"He never left his little hometown in Italy until he met my mom and she took him around the world," said Giorgio, 22.

Tavecchio lived in Milan, Italy, Connecticut, Rome, Moraga, Virginia and back to Moraga, where the family has lived since 2005. He played football and soccer his final three years at Campolindo High, where he was an all-league soccer player on the North Coast Section champs as a senior.

Now, he's all about football. And he landed in a perfect situation to learn from one of the best.

Tavecchio did all the kicking in the 49ers' exhibition opener Aug. 10 against the Minnesota Vikings. He made a 29-yard field goal and both extra-point attempts. Last week, while Akers made three field goals, including kicks of 50 and 55 yards, Tavecchio handled kickoff chores. He blasted two kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

"You've just seen so much improvement," Harbaugh said. "He was already good to start with, with good tools. He's a long way from being a carpenter, but he's a lot closer now after spending this time with David Akers."

Said Tavecchio, "He (Akers) feels like he's passing the torch to me, which I'm incredibly thankful for. That's what I hope to do in future for some young kid."

Report: 49ers seek first-round pick for Staley

Report: 49ers seek first-round pick for Staley

If the 49ers are active at the NFL trade deadline on Nov. 1, the organization figures to be sellers.

With a 1-6 record, mired in a six-game losing streak and seemingly fielding a less-competitive team every week, the 49ers do not figure to be in the buying market with the trade deadline approaching.

Left tackle Joe Staley, 32, one of the team’s few players who would be attractive to a contender, is available for a first-round draft pick, according to Pro Football Talk. The report cited a “source with knowledge of the dynamics.”

Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas is also on the trade market for a second-round pick, according to the report. The teams mentioned with potential interest in acquiring Staley or Thomas are the Vikings, Giants, Cardinals, Seahawks and Patriots, reports PFT.

Staley has a base salary of $5.4 million this season. His pay increases to $8.95 million next season, including $8.25 million in base salary. He is signed through the 2019 season.

Staley, a first-round draft pick in 2007, has been selected to five consecutive Pro Bowls.

If the 49ers trade Staley, it could open the way for right tackle Trent Brown to move to the left side. The only other tackle on the roster is rookie John Theus. Veteran guard Zane Beadles is also capable of playing tackle.

The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 1 p.m. (PT). The 49ers enter their bye week after Sunday's 34-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team’s next game is Nov. 6 against the New Orleans Saints.

Kickers miss short field goals in OT; Seahawks, Cardinals tie


Kickers miss short field goals in OT; Seahawks, Cardinals tie

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Seattle's Stephen Hauschka and Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro missed short field goals that would have won the game in overtime and the Seahawks and Cardinals settled for a 6-6 tie Sunday night.

Hauschka's 27-yard field goal was wide left with seven seconds left after Catanzaro's 24-yarder bounced off the left upright.

The tie was the Cardinals' first since Dec. 7, 1986, a 10-10 draw at Philadelphia when the franchise was based in St. Louis. It was the first for the Seattle since entering the NFL in 1976.

The last tie in the NFL came in 2014, when Carolina and Cincinnati tied 37-37.

The Cardinals (3-3-1) dominated the game statistically and looked to be in shape to win it after Carson Palmer's 40-yard pass to J.J. Nelson set up Catanzaro's short kick.

The Seahawks (4-1-1), stuffed throughout regulation by the Arizona defense, took over and Russell Wilson completed passes of 31 yards to Jermaine Kearse and 27 yards to Doug Baldwin to give Houschka his short attempt.

Both kickers made field goals on their teams' first possession of overtime.

Catanzaro, who kicked field goals of 46 and 45 yards, also had a 39-yard field goal blocked by a stunning play by Bobby Wagner.

Until the overtime, the only time the Seahawks crossed midfield came when Tanner McEnvoy blocked Ryan Quigley's punt with 4:33 to play. That gave Seattle the ball on the Arizona 27 and led to Hauschka's 40-yard field goal that tied it at 3 with four minutes to play.

Catanzaro's 46-yard field goal put Arizona up 3-0 with 3:11 left in the first half and the Cardinals nursed that lead until the blocked punt.

On a bruising night, Arizona's David Johnson had a career-high 41 touches. He carried the ball 33 times for 113 yards and caught eight passes for 58 yards. Russell Wilson, obviously slowed by leg problems, complelted 24 of 37 passes for 225 yards, most of the damage coming in the overtime. He carried the ball once for minus-two yards.

Arizona's defense nearly scored halfway through the fourth quarter when Chandler Jones hit Wilson as he was about to pass and the ball bounced toward the Seattle goal line, but Michael Glowinski jumped on it for Seattle and the 4-yard line, a 20-yard loss.


The Cardinals had the first scoring threat. Catanzaro lined up for a 39-yard field goal but 245-pound linebacker Wagner jumped over Arizona long snapper Aaron Brewer like an Olympic hurdler and blocked it. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians argued loudly for a penalty and was charged with a timeout when he challenged a play that is not reviewable. That proved significant when the Cardinals couldn't stop the clock to get off a short field goal attempt as the first half ended.


The Cardinals were without speedster John Brown after doctors diagnosed sickle cell traits that were causing leg pain. The other wide receiver named Brown, Jaron, left the game early with a knee injury, depleting is usually one of the league's deeper wide receiver corps.