49ers’ kicker perseveres despite setbacks

David Akers spent a dozen seasons in the NFL in a time of plenty.

San Francisco 49ers kicker David Akers, speaking at media day Jan. 30 for the 2013 Super Bowl, has endured the toughest of his 12 years in the NFL.

Now with the San Francisco 49ers, Akers was one of the most consistent kickers in the game during 11 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, regularly hitting more than 80 percent of his field goal attempts. Last year with the 49ers, Akers had arguably the best season ever for a kicker, setting an NFL record 44 field goals.

This season, however, was a time of want for Akers, even though the 49ers had a successful season before losing to the Baltimore Ravens Feb. 3 in the 2013 Super Bowl. Struggling with inconsistency, Akers converted only 69 percent of his field goal attempts this season. He drew the ire of 49ers fans and even received death threats on Twitter.

As he rested in God’s grace during the bountiful years, Akers has learned to do the same during a season of difficulty.

“As humans, we question a lot of what’s going on or we can’t see the big picture of what’s happening,” Akers said. “Sometimes the answer comes quickly, and sometimes it takes a long time before reflection is turned into answers.”

Those answers have often come to Akers from Scriptures such as “Lean not on your own understanding” and “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”

Though this season was the toughest Akers has faced in a long time, he’s not new to adversity away from the game. From 2007-09, Akers invested $3.7 million with a financial group in what proved to be a Ponzi scheme. He lost his life’s savings.

Then, in 2011, Akers’ 6-year-old daughter, Halley, had surgery to remove a malignant tumor from an ovary. She has since recovered fully from the cancer scare.

Struggles such as those tend to put football in its proper perspective for Akers.

“We all go through trials through life,” he said. “My business is playing football, and I try to do it to the best of my ability. There are some times where you have success, and other times where you have failures. You realize that what you do in life doesn’t define who you are.”

Akers wrote about what does define him in a recent edition of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ monthly magazine.

“I don’t want my legacy to be that I was great at making long field goals or filling up the stat sheet,” Akers wrote. “I’d rather be known as a great husband and father, a good friend and teammate, a servant and someone who could be counted upon. I love my heavenly father and, like Romans 8:28 says, I have a purpose in this life: to give glory to God in all things.”

“As long as you love God, then you know that he has a plan for you, and you’ve got to just keep working in the situation that you’re in,” Akers said. “I’ve had a blessed career. It’s been a tough season for me personally, but it’s been one of the most rewarding years as a teammate, to see how well the team’s done.” – BP