Akers happy to help kick Harbaugh to debut victory

Before David Akers could sneak away to his car unnoticed and

under the radar as he prefers it, Jack Harbaugh stopped the kicker

for a quick greeting and congratulations.

Years after Harbaugh recruited the dependable Akers to Western

Kentucky only to see him choose Louisville instead, Akers booted

four field goals and converted three extra points to help

Harbaugh’s son, Jim, win his NFL coaching debut with the San

Francisco 49ers in a 33-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on

Sunday.

For everybody who figured Jim Harbaugh faced a steep learning

curve in his high-profile move down the freeway from Stanford to

the NFL, his 49ers got it done against the defending NFC West

champions. Akers wanted Ted Ginn Jr. to take the glory in this one

after his two late kick returns for touchdowns in a 59-second span

sealed it.

”It was fun,” Jim Harbaugh said Monday. ”You realize you

can’t get to win No. 2 without getting win No. 1.”

Leading 19-17 after the Seahawks got back in it on a touchdown

by a former Harbaugh Stanford star, Doug Baldwin, Ginn took any

Seattle momentum away for good. He returned a kickoff 102 yards for

a touchdown and followed that up by scoring on a 55-yard punt

return – the first time in franchise history the 49ers got one of

each.

Next up in Week 2: a frustrated and determined Dallas team that

blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in a 27-24 loss to the Jets on

Sunday night. Quarterback Tony Romo got home a little after 5 a.m.

and was back to work by 10 to start studying up on the 49ers.

The Harbaughs kept their celebrating mellow with a casual dinner

in so they could watch the last of the Cowboys-Jets opener.

The modest, soft-spoken Akers headed out after just another

solid day’s work. Nailing his kicks through the uprights is what he

does and always has done – now with the Niners as the replacement

to the retired Joe Nedney.

”Just to win for Coach Harbaugh for the first and to know the

family so well over the years, to be part of it is really something

special,” Akers said. ”This is a franchise with great history

and, obviously, the last some years have been a little on the down

side. We are trying our best to change that. It takes time, but

today was a good start.”

Make that eight years. Eight years out of the playoffs and eight

years without a winning record.

The 36-year-old Akers joined the rebuilding 49ers in July after

12 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, where John Harbaugh –

Jim’s big brother – served as his special teams coach for eight

years.

”They always say special teams are one-third of the game,”

Jack Harbaugh said. ”It might have been just a little bit more

than one-third of the game – it took a lot of pressure off the

football team that special teams responded that well. David, he was

with John in Philadelphia. Now he’s here, and he kicked those field

goals today.”

Akers was named to the past two Pro Bowls and last season set a

career high with 23 touchbacks. But the Eagles drafted kicker Alex

Henery in the fourth round, making Akers expendable.

He wound up in a good spot out West working with another

Harbaugh.

”The only Harbaugh I didn’t end up playing for. I almost did,”

Akers said with a smile while addressing Jack. ”We’re old-timers,

old-time friends.”

”I just couldn’t recruit,” Jack replied, chuckling. ”Just

keep kickin’ ’em.”

While the elder Harbaugh has long been a sounding board for his

sons, he had only one message planned for his son after Sunday’s

win: ”The only real thing I’ll say is how proud I am. The way –

with the lockout and no OTAs and some of the players he hadn’t met

until the latter part of July – he came in and got a lot of work

done in August and the preseason, then to come here on opening day

against the Seahawks, a divisional team and a team you have to beat

if you’re going to have a chance to get to the playoffs, bowed his

neck and jetted out his jaw and said, ‘Let’s get it done.”’

Team Harbaugh went 2-for-2 on Sunday.

Jack Harbaugh and wife, Jackie, also celebrated John Harbaugh’s

35-7 rout with the Baltimore Ravens over Pittsburgh – albeit from

afar.

”It was a fantastic day for us to experience John and Jim, who

are brothers in the NFL, and then to go back-to-back with wins,”

Jack Harbaugh said. ”It’s an outstanding feeling. Just imagine all

those parents out there, they have their youngsters in academics,

music and art and the youngster brings home classwork and the pride

that they feel. Jackie and I feel the same pride in our

family.”

Notes: The Niners signed RB Ian Johnson to the practice squad

and released RB Xavier Omon. … Harbaugh had no update on WR

Michael Crabtree’s injured left foot after X-rays were negative

Sunday night. The 2009 10th overall pick broke the foot and needed

surgery after getting hurt during workouts led by quarterback Alex

Smith during the NFL lockout this summer. ”When you come back from

a long period of being out and then you’re right back in there,

there is some soreness, there’s some rust,” Harbaugh said. ”I

think that’s where he is, he’s working through some things

there.”