SANTA CLARA David Akers said Thursday that in a season of highs and lows he would gladly trade his NFL record-tying field goal in Green Bay for the potential overtime winners he missed in two games against St. Louis.
"It's been disappointing, to say the least," the 49ers kicker said. "Obviously, two games came down to missed kicks. And I hated to be the reason why we tied one and lost another one."
Thursday was the first day of competition between Akers and Billy Cundiff, the nine-year veteran the 49ers signed Tuesday after Akers missed two more kicks in Sunday's regular-season finale against Arizona.
Coach Jim Harbaugh, special-teams coach Brad Seely and general manager Trent Baalke watched the two even during their warm-ups.
Neither kicker has been told how the competition will work or when a decision will be made. They just know the player who performs better in practice will be the kicker for the team's Jan. 12 playoff opener at Candlestick Park.
"It's been laid out very clearly," Cundiff said. "It's, 'Go out and practice well. Don't worry about anything else. Just give it your best.' And it's our head coach's decision and the management's decision on who's going to kick."
Akers said his "up-and-down year" began in February with double hernia surgery. He said he recovered, had a good training camp and then booted a 63-yard field goal in Green Bay in Week 1 that tied the record for the longest field goal.
During the season, however, he fell following a kickoff and aggravated the injury. Akers said he flew to Philadelphia after the 49ers-Saints game Nov. 25 to receive treatment. He said he's felt good in recent practices and in pregame attempts but hasn't found consistency in games.
Akers, a left-footed kicker, has a 69 percent field-goal percentage this season, the worst of his career, and 30th among full-time kickers this season.
"If I had an answer, I'd have fixed it a long time ago," Akers said.
Cundiff said he tried out for seven teams after he was released by Washington in October. The right-footed kicker said he continued to train and practice while he waited for an opportunity.
Cundiff is best known for his 32-yard miss for Baltimore and coach John Harbaugh at the end of last season's AFC Championship. Now, he has the opportunity to return to the playoffs and kick for another coach named Harbaugh. Does Cundiff think about redemption?
"For me, I moved on right after it happened," Cundiff said. "To have success in this league, you have to wipe your plate clean every year. Because you can't drag things in, whether it's positive or negative. Because each year is brand new.
"Would I like to have that kick back? I most definitely would. But is it going to affect the way I think about this year's playoffs? Absolutely not."