SANTA CLARA -- David Akers' career-worst regular season hasn't cost him his job as the 49ers kicker for Saturday's playoff opener.
Coach Jim Harbaugh announced after Thursday's practice that he's sticking with Akers instead of turning to newcomer Billy Cundiff, whom the 49ers signed Jan. 1.
"We feel confident in David giving us the best chance to win," Harbaugh said. "(Cundiff) has none a nice job. David's done a better job and is more prepared to give us the best chance to win."
Over the past week, Akers and Cundiff took turns kicking at practices, creating an odd spectacle that captured the attention of curious teammates and hawk-eyed media.
"I've said all along David's going to make the kick to help us win the Super Bowl," cornerback Carlos Rogers said. "The talk about him missing kicks, the talk about the changes, I've always been with David."
Neither kicker was available for comment Thursday. Cundiff will remain on the roster, although he likely won't suit up Saturday, Harbaugh noted.
Akers is coming off a miserable regular season in which he made 29 of 42 field-goal attempts, giving him a career-low 69 percent conversion rate.
Harbaugh's decision was greeted with approval from other veterans beside Rogers.
"It's nice to see that Akers gets an opportunity to redeem himself, especially in the playoffs," safety Donte Whitner said.
Added quarterback Alex Smith: "He's obviously gone through a rough
Before careening off course, Akers built up plenty of equity during the 2011 season, setting NFL records with 44 field goals, 52 attempts and 166 points, most ever by a kicker.
But after his 13th missed field goal this season, Akers angrily tossed his helmet into the 49ers bench just before halftime of their Dec. 30 win over the Arizona Cardinals in the regular-season finale. Akers returned to make his two second-half attempts, from 43 and 26 yards.
"People talk about my demeanor being down. Listen, I take my job seriously," Akers said Jan. 3. "I feel when I miss kicks, I let the team, the organization, the fans down. I take it personal. I guess sometimes I care too much about it.
"It seemed like I could never get the consistency where we wanted it to kind of get the snowball in a good direction."
Perhaps the 15th-year veteran will return to All-Pro form in the playoffs. He made all four of his attempts in the 49ers' two postseason games last year. He opened this season with a record-tying 63-yard field goal in a Sept. 9 win over the Green Bay Packers, who visit the 49ers in Saturday's divisional-round game.
While Akers has made a field goal in every 49ers game since the start of the 2011 season, he missed at least one field goal in all but seven games this season. He revealed last week that he required offseason surgery for a double hernia, and further treatment was sought less than two months ago.
The only two kickers with a worse field-goal percentage this season were the Packers' Mason Crosby (63.6 percent) and Cundiff, who made 7 of 12 attempts (58.3 percent) before the Redskins cut him after five games.
Cundiff's last playoff foray saw him miss a tying field goal to seal the Baltimore Ravens' loss to the New England Patriots in last season's AFC Championship game.
"I think that (competition with Cundiff) was just a little pressure to get David back on point," Rogers said. "Coach is not the guy that brings in a lot of people, changes a lot of positions. We kind of stick who we've stuck with from the beginning of training camp. David's that guy."
No 49ers starter has lost his job to poor performance this season, nor have there been any other situations calling for change. The team won the NFC West and a No. 2 playoff seed for a second straight season.
"Everybody respects Dave in this locker room," Smith said. "I know it's been tough. It's not easy. It seems like you only really get noticed when you go out there and fail. Everybody has respect for what Dave is about, what he stands for."
Akers will be kicking in his 11th postseason, having been to the playoffs nine times during his Philadelphia Eagles tenure from 1999-2010. The Eagles parted ways with him two years ago, after he missed 2 of 3 field-goal attempts in a 21-16, wild-card playoff loss to the Packers.
"I saw what he did and won so many games," said Rogers, a former NFC East rival with the Redskins. "This year ... he's just missed some kicks that were really important in certain spots. But a lot of people would take David over any kickers in the league."
That's exactly what Harbaugh and the 49ers did Thursday.
Bay Area News Group staff writer Steve Corkran contributed to this report. For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.