The ability to clear $3 million in needed salary-cap room at the same time made Akers' release inevitable.
"The 49ers would like to thank David for his service, dedication and leadership over the past two years," general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement announcing Akers' release. "He is a true professional who represented himself and this organization with class. We wish him, and his family, all the best."
That's high praise from a GM following a kicker's two-year run with a team. As the 49ers noted, Akers led the NFL in scoring over the past two seasons, having set an NFL single-season record for field goals made (44) and attempted (52) in 2011.
Akers' kicking percentage plummeted this season for two reasons. One, the 49ers' improvement in the red zone gave Akers fewer easy chances. Two, Akers' accuracy suffered from longer ranges even though he tied the NFL record with a 63-yarder in Week 1.
Akers, 38, has earned Pro Bowl honors six times.
The chart compares Akers' field goal stats in 2012 to those for other NFC West kickers. He was last.
Akers' release leaves $566,668 in dead money on the 49ers' books, defined as salary-cap charges for players no longer on the roster. That figure represents one-third of the $1.7 million signing bonus San Francisco paid to Akers as part of a three-year deal in 2011. Akers will not receive the $3 million in salary he was scheduled to earn in 2013.
The 49ers are trimming salary as they seek to comply with the $123.9 million salary cap by the NFL deadline Tuesday. They've had quite a bit of money tied up in specialists. Punter Andy Lee's contract is scheduled to count more than $4 million against the cap in 2013.
The 49ers will be in the market for a kicker this offseason.