Takeo Spikes has been everything and more since then-GM Scot McCoughlin signed him in early August 2008. He has brought the swagger, leadership, enthusiasm, experience, and playmaking ability to the weak LB spot, a weak position since the Yorks foolishly let ROLB Julian Peterson go to division rival Seattle in 2006.
Like Peterson, Spikes was also a playmaker on the defense this season. Spikes' 2008 total for a 32 year old LB is pretty amazing considering the past two seasons in Buffalo and Phily he had to deal with injuries. He had 96 total tackles, one sack, three interceptions', two forced fumbles, and six pass deflections.
Spikes is a free agent this season, and McCoughlin and Jed York (Denise and John's eldest son) want him to be back next season. To make things even more pleasant for negotiations, Spikes himself says that he wants to be play here next to star MLB Patrick Willis.
Spikes, who said in his previous stays in Cincy, Buffalo, and Phily, he did not regret leaving those teams. If he were let go after his only season as a 'Niner, then he would be bitterly disappointed that he can't be part of something "great" happening in San Fran.
Spikes has made Willis better and, of course, any 49er fan would know that Willis has made Spikes better. But these two have mutual respect for each other. They want to play next season together in hopes of ending a soon to be seven-year playoff drought in the Bay Area.
With Spikes patrolling the weak side on the defense, and Willis patrolling sideline to sideline, you have a formidable duo in the second level. Add the addition of star 2008 free agent right end Justin Smith from Cincy (whom Spikes played with in his first two seasons) and it's no wonder why the players would love to have him back in the locker room.
If Spikes signs for the 2009 season, he will have more experience in the Coach's defensive scheme as well as strengths that Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky will exploit in 2009.
If they do not sign Spikes for next season, they have a few options. Put ROLB Parys Haralson in the weak spot that would neutralize his pass rushing ability which allowed him to led the team in sacks with eight. Also resign Roderick Green and let him fill in Spikes position.
Ultimately, those guys are good because of Spikes and Willis. Their coverage is excellent as well as their range and anticipation in each play. Remember how the 49er defense sunk in 2006 without Peterson? Those who fail history are only doomed to repeat it.
Let's hope that it doesnt' come to that.