The San Francisco 49ers just lost their starting TED linebacker to the San Diego Chargers. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune tweeted that the Chargers and Takeo Spikes have come to terms on a three-year deal. For San Diego, three years seems like a lot for a 34-year old linebacker, but he does come in knowing the defense of the new coordinator, Greg Manusky, who was with Spikes in San Francisco.
For the 49ers, it means losing a player who was a key contributor the past two seasons and who most figured was going to finish his career there. Most believe that the 49ers were going to extend an offer to him, but it seems like the Chargers are the only team who offered three years on the contract, let alone two. At this point in his career, he needs to take those kinds of deals.
As the TED linebacker next to Patrick Willis in the 3-4, Spikes was counted on for many things that will now fall on the shoulders of second-year player NaVorro Bowman. A 3rd-round draft choice in 2010, Bowman saw the field when Spikes was rested last season, with definitely mixed results. He's got a lot of work ahead of him to be ready to play the position, and still needs to put on some weight and muscle, but a change in defensive coordinator does help him a bit. Vic Fangio's the new guy in town and his defense is more tailored towards athleticism, movement and aggression, somewhere that Bowman probably has a leg-up on Spikes.
Still, this probably means that the 49ers will be bringing in a veteran at the position to help Bowman or potentially even start if the younger guy is not ready.