49ers will stick with Akers as kicker
San Francisco kicker David Akers will keep his job for the Super Bowl despite missing another field goal attempt in the NFC championship game on Sunday.
“The decision’s been made,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday.
Akers missed a 38-yard try that bounced off the left upright in the third quarter against Atlanta that would have tied the score at 24. The 49ers pulled out the 28-24 win with a touchdown and a late-game defensive stand to advance to the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens on Feb. 3.
Akers has missed 14 of his last 38 field goal attempts, but he did kick a 36-yarder in the NFC divisional playoff win over Green Bay the previous week.
Concerns about Akers’ kicking before the playoffs prompted the 49ers to bring in free-agent Billy Cundiff for a tryout, but Akers held off the challenge.
AFC, NFC title games draw 89 million viewers
The AFC and NFC Championship games Sunday ranked as television’s most-watched programs since Super Bowl XLVI, according to The Nielsen Company’s Fast National ratings.
The Baltimore Ravens-New England Patriots AFC Championship Game on CBS drew 47.7 million viewers while the NFC title game between the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons on Fox drew 42.0 million viewers.
It is the fourth straight year the two championship games each drew at least 41 million viewers.
Kings’ Greene expected to miss remainder of season
The road to a repeat just became much more difficult for the Los Angeles Kings.
Defenseman Matt Greene suffered a serious back injury during the Kings’ 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night. He has been placed on injured reserve, and is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
Greene was entering his fifth season with Los Angeles. The 29-year-old has 11 goals and 52 assists in 462 NHL games with Edmonton and the Kings.
The Kings added defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk from the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League to help fill the void. Bodnarchuk participated in training camp with the Kings before he was assigned to Manchester last Friday.
The Kings return to action Tuesday night at Colorado.
Caldwell will remain Ravens’ offensive coordinator
A lot of teams are making changes to their coaching staff, but the Baltimore Ravens will stick with Jim Caldwell as their offensive coordinator.
Head coach John Harbaugh announced Monday that Caldwell, who replaced fired Cam Cameron during the season, will have the interim tag removed and keep the job in 2013.
Harbaugh said he expects to keep his staff intact for next season but did announce the addition of former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.
The Ravens’ offense has improved dramatically since Caldwell, the former Indianapolis Colts head coach, took over in week 15. Baltimore has averaged 417 yards per game since Caldwell took the reins and scored 21 points in the second half Sunday to rally past New England and advance to the Super Bowl.
Lightning, Blackhawks acquire players in trades
NHL teams are trying to fine tune their lineups with trades as the shortened season goes through its early stages.
The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired forward Jean-Francois Jacques from the Florida Panthers for future considerations, the Lightning announced Monday.
Jacques, 27, scored five goals, and two assists and 37 penalty minutes in 24 games this season with the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League. The left winger tied for first on the Rampage with three power play goals.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks obtained goalie Henrik Karlsson from the Calgary Flames for a seventh-round pick in 2013.
Blood clot ends season for Cavs’ Varejao
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Anderson Varejao’s recent surgery might have prompted the Cavaliers to explore the possibility of adding another center.
It’s hard to tell if the latest unexpected turn in Varejao’s star-crossed past three years, this one ending his All-Star-caliber season, will add urgency to that search.
The Cavs announced that Varejao, a nine-year veteran, has been hospitalized since Thursday with a blood clot in his right lung. He will remain at the Cleveland Clinic for several days and must continue taking blood thinners for three months, which will keep him out the remaining 40 games. Because of the medication, General Manager Chris Grant said even a bruise could cause problems if Varejao tried to play.
The team with the most losses in the league has no legitimate big man coming off the bench behind rookie Tyler Zeller.
Varejao underwent surgery on Jan. 10 to repair a split quadriceps muscle near his ailing right knee that was expected to sideline him another six to eight weeks. He was initially hurt Dec. 18 against the Toronto Raptors and later sought a second opinion from Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colo.
Grant said doctors don’t know whether the clot was a result of his latest operation.
Wings’ Holmstrom to retire Tuesday
Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom will announce his retirement at a press conference on Tuesday, according to MLive.com. Holmstrom, who will turn 40 on Wednesday, won four Stanley Cups in 15 seasons with the team. In 15 seasons, all with the Red Wings, he had 243 goals and 530 points.