SANTA CLARA -- David Akers' career-worst regular season has prompted the 49ers to consider an alternative kicker for the playoffs. Coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday that the 49ers probably will audition "a few" free agent kickers before their Jan. 12 playoff opener.
Harbaugh noted that Akers is "still our kicker" and even proposed that Akers might get to compete for his job in practice against anyone the 49ers might sign.
Veteran free agent Billy Cundiff, who auditioned with the 49ers on Nov. 27, has been told to expect a follow-up tryout, according to a league source. Former Carolina Panthers kicker Justin Medlock is also under consideration, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Harbaugh presented the 49ers' options: 1. Keep Akers, who set NFL records last season for field goals made and attempted; 2. Go with a new kicker; 3. Sign another kicker and have him compete with Akers.
"David's certainly in it," Harbaugh added. "He's done a lot of great things for us. He's made a lot of great kicks, a lot of big kicks. He knows it, we know it, those kicks in those games, you've got to make those."
General manager Trent Baalke, on his weekly radio show on 95.7 The Game, said he and Harbaugh had "big discussions internally" on a kicking situation that's been evaluated daily.
"David's in a tough spot," Baalke said. "He's battling. He's trying to work through it. At times he has gotten himself through it, and then something like yesterday
Akers, a 14-year veteran, converted a career-low 69 percent of his field-goal attempts this regular season, including 9 of 19 from 40 yards or longer. He made his first six attempts overall, highlighted by a record-tying 63-yarder in a season-opening win at Green Bay.
Joe Nedney, Akers' predecessor with the 49ers, has no plans to come out of retirement based on a knee injury from his 15 NFL seasons. But Nedney sympathizes with Akers' struggles and the 49ers' predicament.
"To me, this seems like uncharted territory, for a team to have an established veteran go through this at this point in the season," Nedney said by phone Monday. "It's a nightmare come true. No disrespect to David Akers, but it's reality."
Cundiff's last playoff experience wasn't successful. He missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt with 15 seconds left that would have tied John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens with the New England Patriots in last season's AFC Championship game.
No definitive date has been set for Cundiff's potential tryout, only that it is expected soon, perhaps after the New Year's holiday, the source said.
Cundiff opened the season with the Washington Redskins and made 7 of 12 field-goal attempts through their first five games. The 49ers could host the Redskins in the divisional playoffs, but only if the Redskins beat the Seahawks and the Vikings upset the Packers in the wild-card round.
According to a source, the 49ers haven't shown interest in Neil Rackers, a 12-year veteran who kicked in the 2008 Arizona Cardinals' Super Bowl run. Also on the market is 20-year veteran John Kasay, a left-footed kicker like Nedney and Akers.
Akers missed his first two field-goal attempts in the 49ers' 27-13 victory Sunday in the regular-season finale, compounding a season-long skid that included missing potential game-winners in their overtime games against the St. Louis Rams. He's had three field goals blocked, and the latest was returned 90 yards for a touchdown in a Dec. 23 loss at Seattle.
"We understand that's the job of the kicker, put it through the uprights," Harbaugh said. "But we understand the difficult nature of the job as well."
Jacobs had five carries for 7 yards in two games. In a Twitter post Monday, he thanked the 49ers for the opportunity and wished them luck in the playoffs.
The 49ers are preparing game plans for three potential divisional playoff opponents, and Harbaugh said he wants all his assistants on the 49ers' premises Thursday and Friday, when they'll hold their only practices during this bye week.
NFC Divisional Playoff at 49ers, 5 p.m. FOX