Spikes Takes Part in First Practice

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Takeo Spikes was enjoying a county fair back in Atlanta with his five-year old daughter when he got the call from his agent Saturday night that the 49ers were ready to sign him, barring a passed physical.

"I looked at her and didn't have the heart to tell her I had to leave so we finished the day out, took her home and explained it to her," said Spikes.

Spikes first visited with the 49ers back in March, but neither he nor the 49ers seemed in a hurry to get something done. In fact, after his visit with the Detroit Lions the rumor mill had him all but signed.

Although Spikes said he was impressed with Detroit and that "it was close," he opted to wait to go somewhere that he felt he'd be happy. Turns out that was the San Francisco 49ers.

"The first time I came out to San Francisco I was impressed," said Spikes. "I was impressed with the coaching staff. It reminded me of the coaching staff I had when I first got to Buffalo. That really turned me on.

"I was just waiting to see where the best opportunity was. It really wasn't about money for me. I wanted to come somewhere that I'd have the best opportunity to win. I've been playing 11 years now. I'm trying to at the minimum get to the playoffs and then we are going to win it all in the Super Bowl. So I felt that San Francisco was the best place for me."

Signed late Sunday night, Spikes was quickly put to work in both individual work and team in Monday's full padded practice, with his place for the time being behind Jeff Ulbrich at TED.

"First day, it was decent," said Spikes. "I had to take some of the reps off but everything came together for a first day though. There's a lot of catching up I have to do, but other than that, putting the time in and getting acclimated with some of the guys."

Getting acclimated to the guys is a lot easier since over the last ten years he's played with a handful of 49ers including safety Mark Roman and defensive lineman Justin Smith in Cincinnati, as well as Nate Clements and Jonas Jennings in Buffalo.

"Those guys stayed in my ear (about coming here) all through the summer," said Spikes.

Spikes also took most of his team reps alongside Dontarrious Thomas, another familiar face dating back to their college days at Auburn. Spikes met the younger backer during his last year for the Tigers when Thomas made his recruiting visit.

"I met him then, but we grew up in the same area in Georgia so I'm familiar with him – ever since he was a young pup out of high school."

Spikes spent last night and Monday morning convincing Thomas to part with his #51 jersey. There was no official contract for the number, but Spikes did promise to do something real special for him.

"He told me to get creative," said Spikes. "So, we'll do it." \

Thomas actually didn't have much choice about giving up the number. After all, he chose 51 to begin with in honor of the two-time Pro Bowler.

"I knew that was his number. That was part of the reason I chose that number when I came out here because it was available," said Thomas. "I have so much respect for him, I looked up to him growing up. When he asked me, I was like, 'Yah, sure.'"

Asked why 51 such a coveted number for him?

"It's always the speed limit when I'm on the field," said Spikes. "That's the way I look at it. I got it when I first came in and I've been attached to it ever since then."

It might take Spikes a few days to get up to his full speed, but the veteran said the 49ers defense is similiar to Dick LeBeau's defense in Cincinnati where he played the MIKE, a position that is owned by 49ers Pro Bowl linebacker Joe Staley. While the design might feature the MIKE, Spikes has no problem working at TED.

"Patrick is coming in at the same position as I was in Cincy and a lot of the calls are for that side of the defense – the weak side. And he's sitting right there," said Spikes. "At the same time, the TED has a lot of opportunities to make plays too. They are out there to be made. Do I just sit back and bide (time) and at the end of the day think 'he's got this play, he's got it made and everything,' nah. If there's a play out there to be made I'm going to go out there and make it, or I tell him meet me at the ball. I always tell guys meet me at the ball."

Clements said he remembers that all too well from their days together in Buffalo.

"He brings a lot of energy," said Clements. "We used to compete in practice every day in Buffalo to see who could get the most interceptions in practice. He's definitely a competitor and he's going to push himself as well as others – that's what he's going to bring to the table."

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