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Tuesday, July 26, 2011
On the departure of 49ers' Takeo Spikes

By Mike Sando

Takeo Spikes is taking the most impressive neck in the NFC West to the San Diego Chargers. The San Francisco 49ers will be worse for his departure in the short term even though they've already gotten far more from Spikes than seemed reasonable when they signed him.

Spikes, 34, has produced consistently and at a high level for the 49ers since joining the team three years ago. But with a new staff taking over, it's unclear if the 49ers will value players the same way they did previously. The team needs NaVorro Bowman, chosen 91st overall in the 2010 draft, to take over the job at some point. That could happen right away with Spikes departing, but the lockout has prevented the new staff from developing younger players.

The 49ers will be fine at inside linebacker as long as Patrick Willis remains atop his game. But with Spikes gone and nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin unsigned for 2011, Willis might suffer from less protection around him. How new coordinator Vic Fangio structures the defense remains another variable.

The fit in San Diego should be a good one for Spikes now that the 49ers' former defensive coordinator, Greg Manusky, is running the Chargers' defense.