The San Francisco 49ers now have to move on without veteran linebacker Takeo Spikes. The 13-year free agent veteran is coming off his best season with the 49ers and has decided to join the San Diego Chargers.
Teammates, including fellow linebacker Patrick Willis, had advocated for the 49ers to bring back Spikes. But the situation in San Diego seemed too appealing for Spikes to pass up.
Spikes is reunited with former 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky in San Diego. Familiarity had to be a major determining factor for Spikes’ decision. Also, Spikes has never been to the playoffs in his entire career. The Chargers present a better opportunity for that than the 49ers at this point.
After the 49ers’ final game during the 2010 regular season, Spikes mentioned that a departure from the team started to sink in. He noted that he wanted to give himself a three-year window to see the team’s improvement before deciding on his football future. In Spikes’ three years with the 49ers, they never had a winning record and that wasn’t enough to keep him in San Francisco.
With Spikes’ departure, the 49ers now will have to rely on second-year player NaVorro Bowman to take over the starting Ted position at middle linebacker. Bowman saw action last year and is still a work in progress for the team. And with the limited time for Bowman to learn the new defense, it will be a very tough transition for the 49ers.
** Spikes also took time on Twitter to thank the 49ers fans.
According to a league source, the New York Giants have agreed to sign center David Baas. Baas spent last year as the 49ers’ starting center and played well after Eric Heitmann was lost for the season with a leg injury. Signing Baas was the team’s top priority and now the 49ers are in desperation mode to find his replacement. This is a major blow to the 49ers’ struggling offensive line.
With Heitmann unable to return this year, the 49ers now only have Adam Snyder, Tony Wragge, rookies Daniel Kilgore, Mike Peson and Chase Beeler as their center options. All with limited experience at the position in the NFL. The 49ers will have to dive into the free agent market to add some help at that position.
Here are some notable centers available on the market: Olin Kreutz, Chris Spencer, Shaun O’Hara, Casey Wiegmann. It’s going to be a tough pull for the 49ers to get a solid replacement at the position.
The 49ers cannot afford to lose many more starters from their team this off-season. Starting nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin and outside linebacker Manny Lawson are not likely to return to the 49ers on the defensive side. However, safety Dashon Goldson is one player the 49ers cannot afford to lose.
Goldson has expressed a desire to return and the 49ers have reciprocated that feeling. However, it is rumored that the Oakland Raiders are also interested in the services of Goldson. The 49ers believe that Goldson has the potential to become a star safety and they want to give him that opportunity to shine. But at what cost will the 49ers try to spend to keep him?
The upcoming days will be a huge frenzy for the 49ers as they will try to maintain some consistency to their starting defense by signing Goldson. If the 49ers don’t bring him back, they will have to rely on young players like Reggie Smith and Taylor Mays as their starting safeties.
Could the 49ers be in the market for a cornerback? The contract of Nate Clements needs to be reconstructed in order for hte veteran corner to return to the 49ers. If that cannot be done, the 49ers will likely cut Clements and seek help in the free agent market.
How aggressive will the 49ers then be in the open market if they are looking for a starting cornerback? The 49ers have indicated that they won’t make a big splash in the free agent market, but they might be forced to if they want to save their defense.
As reported on Tuesday, the 49ers will have Alex Smith officially back on the team. Smith will sign a one-year, $5 million deal with the 49ers as soon as Friday. The deal had been on the table for Smith since the spring and Smith is already in a good position to become the team’s starting quarterback.
However, the 49ers are still in need of a third quarterback on the roster. A veteran quarterback with starting experience is the best option for the 49ers. Former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has already agreed to sign with Tennessee, so the 49ers would have to look for the services of players like Marc Bulger or even Trent Edwards.
Either way, the 49ers will be in the hunt for a veteran quarterback as a backup plan to Smith — or even challenge him during training camp.