The 2010 San Francisco 49ers were a team in transition. In what would end up being the final year of a decade of struggles, many veterans ended up parting ways after then head coach Mike Singletary was fired.
For Takeo Spikes, leaving was somewhat bittersweet. He loved his time in San Francisco, but also knew the franchise was moving in another direction. Young linebacker NaVorro Bowman was ready to take over next to Patrick Willis in what would end up becoming the best inside linebacker tandem in the NFL.
At that time, expectations in San Francisco were a bit muted. Under the leadership of new head coach Jim Harbaugh, it appeared the franchise was going to be rebuilding once again. While we know how that turned out, Spikes wanted an opportunity to earn his first trip to the postseason. The 2011 San Diego Chargers afforded him a better opportunity at that elusive playoff appearance.
Spikes and the 49ers both decided to move in another direction.
The now 15-year veteran had two really good seasons in San Diego and still has something left in the tank after all these years.
We are hearing through sources close to both Spikes and San Francisco that there is mutual interest in a return to Northern California. These sources indicate that while nothing is imminent, both sides will kick the tires on a possible reunion the closer we get to the regular season. After all, Spikes is a grizzled veteran who doesn’t really need to see preseason action. San Francisco could sign him immediately prior to the opener and slot him in as a backup to both Willis and Bowman.
We do hear that Spikes would rather be given an opportunity to start, which wouldn’t happen in San Francisco. The issue here is that Spikes is running out of opportunities and would rather play for a winner.
What’s the point of starting for a team like the Oakland Raiders, who has a minimal chance of earning a playoff spot?
If Spikes finds a starting opportunity for a contending team, he’s likely to pass on a possible reunion with the 49ers. If not, the two could come to an agreement in relatively short order.
Complicating things a bit further, Larry Grant is suspended for the first four games of the 2013 regular season for violating NFL’s substance abuse policy. He was not re-signed by San Francisco during the offseason, but did act as its primary back at inside linebacker over the past two seasons. In reality, Grant was one of the better backup linebackers in the leagues over the course of those last two years.
San Francisco could realistically retain him after he serves that four-game suspension, in which case interest in Spikes would end.
The 49ers are currently in the midst of a training camp battle for the backup inside linebacker position. Michael Wilhoite has been extremely impressive during the first two preseason games and has had himself quite a nice little training camp. He’s competing with rookie Nick Moody as well as Nathan Stupar for that backup role.
According to our sources, if San Francisco decides Spikes or Grant would represent an upgrade; it will sign one of them.
Vincent is the head sports editor at eDraft, co-host of eDraft Sports Radio (which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. ET) and a fantasy writer for Pro Football Focus. He’s also the news director here at PFC and co-host of Football Debate Central with Ryan Riddle every Wednesday. He’s also a former league-wide featured columnist at Bleacher Report.