SANTA CLARA, Calif. — David Akers' mouth fell open and his eyes popped as he threw his arms into the air in both celebration and disbelief. Somehow, a field goal from 63 yards out had gone in — after bouncing off the crossbar.
Akers, a graduate of Lexington's Tates Creek High School, knows well that this one easily could have missed badly, and poked fun at himself as he relived the record-tying kick this week.
"It's about like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Akers said, once finally able to reflect and watch the field goal on film. "It was neat to get the opportunity and to finish it off in such a great fashion, because most of my kicks that have hit the poles in years past make that lovely sound like we heard and then it comes bouncing back onto the field."
Moments later, San Francisco's spot-on kicker was mobbed by teammates as the 49ers (1-0) headed into halftime of last week's season-opening victory at Green Bay with a 16-7 lead.
Akers' facial expressions became nearly as big a deal in the highlight reels as the kick itself, which just so happened to tie an NFL record for longest ever. Coach Jim Harbaugh jumped for joy.
Akers compared his feat to a golfer going with just the right club and making a hole-in-one.
"You have to do two things on every kick: You have to get it long enough and you've got to get it between the sticks," Akers said. "The one thing I didn't want to do is overkick it. I almost didn't hit it, I thought, well enough. That's where a lot of the shock came from. To me I just think it's a blessing and a miracle, honestly, for my own little personal deal. That's the way I saw it. I was like, 'There's no way I hit it good enough.'"
And that's saying something coming from the guy who set a single-season record with 44 field goals last year.
On Tuesday, the ball was still at team headquarters but being prepared for its trip to Canton, Ohio, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Many of Akers' teammates remain amazed the Eagles ever let this guy get away after 12 years in Philadelphia.
The 37-year-old Akers, a six-time Pro-Bowler in his 15th NFL season out of Louisville, was considered among the 49ers' most important offseason acquisitions after they signed him to a three-year deal in late July 2011.
He showed just why from Day 1, and the rest of the way as San Francisco fell just short of reaching the Super Bowl in a 20-17 overtime loss in the NFC title game to the eventual champion New York Giants.
Aside from his 44 made field goals last season, Akers also set a record for most attempted at 52.
But Sunday's milestone meant a lot because such kicks just don't come around every day. Thus, his reaction when he nailed it.
"I thought it was amazing. Again, you hit it and you don't think you hit it well enough, then it hits the crossbar. I'm like, 'All right, that's going to be great, you have 63 and you came up an inch short,' and then it was the opposite and it went in," Akers said.