49ers cut ties with center Heitmann, kicker Nedney

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SANTA CLARA, CALIF. (AP) - The San Francisco 49ers parted ways with veteran center Eric Heitmann and kicker Joe Nedney on Friday after they failed physicals.

The team made the announcement ahead of its first practice under new coach Jim Harbaugh scheduled for the afternoon.

The 31-year-old Heitmann was placed on season-ending injured reserve last November in his ninth NFL season because of a neck injury that wasn’t healing as quickly as the Niners had hoped. He later underwent offseason surgery.

Nedney will be replaced by five-time Pro Bowl kicker David Akers, who agreed to a deal Thursday.

When he went on IR, Heitmann hadn’t played at all in 2010 after breaking the fibula in his left leg early in training camp last Aug. 9. He was expected to miss up to two months and returned to practice Sept. 29. David Baas took his place on the starting offensive line.

Eric gave nine tremendous years of service to the franchise and the Bay Area community,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said. “As a leader in our locker room, he epitomized what the 49ers strive to achieve.”

Baas is now gone, departed to the New York Giants, so Harbaugh has some decisions to make on an O-line that features leader Joe Staley and returning 2010 first-round draft picks Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati after both started every game as rookies.

Adam Snyder is slated to move into the center position to fill the void left by Heitmann.

“He’s going to do a great job,” wide receiver Josh Morgan said. “He’s been practicing side by side with Eric ever since I’ve been here. He knows everything he needs to do.”

Before his injuries last year, Heitmann had started every game at center each of the previous three seasons. The Stanford product played 14 games there in 2006 before breaking his right leg, needing surgery and missing the final two games.

Nedney made 28 of 34 field goals the past two seasons, ending each on injured reserve. The 38-year-old left-footed kicker had been bothered by knee injuries, although he was hopeful about signing with San Francisco under Harbaugh when he came to one of the team’s informal workouts this summer.

“Joe is a consummate pro in every sense,” Baalke said. “As a player, no word better describes him than ‘clutch.’ Having grown up in the Bay Area, he is a great ambassador for the 49ers.”

Akers is coming off consecutive Pro Bowl seasons, and showed no signs of slowing down last year at age 36 by setting a career high with 23 touchbacks. But the Eagles drafted kicker Alex Henery in the fourth round, making Akers expendable.

Philadelphia had placed the transition tag on Akers before the NFL lockout, but that became invalid under the new labor agreement.

Akers has connected on 81.9 percent of his field goals and 98.7 percent of his extra points. He was cut by three teams before signing with the Eagles in 1999.

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