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Monday, May 19, 2008

Takeo Spikes: 49ers like for Ted LB but no contract yet

Three issues that won't impact 49ers' win-loss record: "1, Ted Linebacker: This is the guy who lines up next to Patrick Willis at strong inside linebacker. It's about the only starting position on defense that is up for grabs. Dontarrious Thomas, Jeff Ulbrich, Brandon Moore and Larry Grant are among the candidates for this job.
The 49ers admit they don't have a true 'ted' linebacker on the roster. This is the spot that Derek Smith played last season. Although Smith struggled last season, the 49ers' run defense still ranked fifth in the NFL in yards-allowed-per-attempt. Smith's shortcomings - mostly his lack of speed - were exposed in pass coverage. Toward the end of the season, he was playing almost exclusively on first downs.
There has been a lot of talk about the 49ers pursuing a 'ted' linebacker, such as Takeo Spikes or Jeremiah Trotter. Both veterans have visited the 49ers. Neither has signed a contract, and the club's preference is Spikes over Trotter. But nothing appears imminent.
The 49ers do not need a big name at this position. This person's job is to take on blockers and make things easier for Willis. This player can do a fine job and remain anonymous. Guys like Larry Foote (Steelers), Matt Wilhelm (Chargers) and Bart Scott (Ravens) help their teams a lot without drawing much attention.
This position is a lot more about mindset than production. Although the 'ted' linebacker will invariably record a lot of tackles in a 3-4 scheme, his main duty is to free up Willis to roam sideline-to-sideline to make tackles.
That's why I believe this position is not a difference-maker. As long as the person who wins the job does not blow his assignments - nor gets too greedy - the 49ers' defense will be just fine."

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