The 49ers signed kicker Billy Cundiff on Tuesday to compete with struggling veteran David Akers.
“He’s thrilled with the opportunity to be in a position to help the team in any way he can this postseason,” said Cundiff’s agent, Paul Sheehy. “It’s a great opportunity, with a great organization.”
Coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday that the NFC West champion Niners (11-4-1), off this week as the NFC’s No. 2 seed, planned to try out kickers because of Akers’ prolonged funk.
Cundiff was released by the Washington Redskins on Oct. 9 after missing 5 of his 12 field goal attempts. He had already worked out once for the Niners on Nov. 27 before they invited him back this time, as Harbaugh initially chose to stick with Akers.
Now, Akers and Cundiff will compete to see who kicks in the team’s NFC divisional playoff game in primetime Jan. 12 at Candlestick Park. San Francisco will play either Green Bay, Seattle or Washington.
To make room for Cundiff, the 49ers released linebacker Eric Bakhtiari.
Cundiff spent the 2009-11 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, who are coached by Harbaugh’s big brother, John. But Cundiff was cut after last season, when he missed a potential tying 32-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the AFC championship game that sent New England to the Super Bowl.
Jim Harbaugh said Monday he might keep two kickers on the roster and open up a competition.
“If we had two on the roster at the same time, then they can kick in practice,” Harbaugh said. “And that’s an option. That’s a possibility. I think there are three options. We go forward with David. We bring in a new kicker. Or, we have two and let them compete for the job. We’ll make that decision as we go.”
Akers is just 29 for 42 this year. He is only 7 for 13 from 40-49 yards and missed wide left twice from that range in Sunday’s 27-13 victory against Arizona in the regular-season finale.