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49ers' Akers has come long way since dark days of last January

What a difference a year made for David Akers.

Last year at this time, the veteran kicker found himself in the lowest of valleys. The day before the Eagles were to play the Packers in the wild card playoff game, Akers learned that his 6-year-old daughter had a tumor on her ovary. Understandably rattled -- and saddled with the additional pressure of kicking for a new contract -- Akers went out the next day and missed two easy field-goal attempts in a game the Eagles lost by five points.

Akers was maligned as the goat who blew a promising season in Philadelphia. Three months later, the Eagles drafted kicker Alex Henery, effectively ending Akers' 12-year run with the team.

Did we mention Akers lost most of his life savings a year prior in a Ponzi scheme?

"My life was kind of a car wreck right then," Akers told ESPN.com's Rick Reilly.

Things have turned around for Akers in the months since. Jim Harbaugh reached out to the free agent, and the 49ers signed the 37-year-old to a three-year, $9 million deal. He responded by having one of the greatest seasons by a kicker in NFL history, setting league records in field goals made (44) and total points (166).

"God made it abundantly clear where I was supposed to be," Akers said. "I love the Harbaugh family."

More importantly, Halley Akers was declared cancer-free this summer. It's a genuine feel-good story about an NFL kicker. You don't hear enough of those.

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