Two of Akers' missed field goal attempts have cost the 49ers potential victories. The first happened in the overtime tie against the Rams on Nov. 11, when he pushed a 41-yarder wide left. The other occurred three weeks later in a loss at St. Louis, when Akers again lined up in overtime to try a potential game-winner, one from 51-yards away -- hardly an improbable feat inside a dome -- and saw it drift wide right.
Just as troubling have been the kicks Akers misses in the run of play that would normally give the offense a boost at key moments but instead kill momentum. That happened in losses to Minnesota and the New York Giants.
Akers' kickoffs have been seemingly unaffected by his injury. He is booming 81.5 percent of them into the end zone, roughly the league average, and has the 10th most touchbacks in the NFL. However, the run-through nature of kickoffs puts less strain on certain muscles, compared with the short windup and explosive mechanics of placement attempts.
Fortunately for the 49ers, their improved offense has overridden Akers' other bad days. But you do wonder if it's made a difference in the play calling. A year ago, inside the 35-yard line, the 49ers could take more downfield shots on third down, knowing Akers' foot all but guaranteed three points on fourth down. Now, unless the ball's inside the 20, it probably makes more sense to go for just enough yards on third-and-short. It might make even more sense to go for it on fourth down.
Thursday, offensive coordinator Greg Roman was asked about all that. His immediate response was to strongly defend Akers.
"We've got total confidence in David," Roman said.
But then, in an attempt to address the original question, he added these words: "We're always going to make decisions, team decisions on offense on whatever's best for the team, however the big picture fits together. That's what we're going to try to do to win the football game."
So in other words: Yes, it is quite possible that the play-calling strategy has been Aker-ized. Only one way to change that. His mystery-meat foot has got to get back on the gold standard.