The 49ers have two open roster spots today after releasing linebacker Brandon Moore and placing tackle Damane Duckett on injured reserve. Duckett broke a bone beneath his left kneecap Friday and will have surgery. Moore's release, meanwhile, may pave the way for the team to sign veteran linebacker Takeo Spikes, whom the team has been wooing since March. Spikes will visit later today and will have a physical. Mike Nolan said Spikes had not signed a contract at this point. If he were to sign -- and all signs point to him signing later today -- Spikes would play the "Ted" linebacker spot next to Patrick Willis.
As for Moore, the linebacker's play had declined sharply from the 2006 season when he led the team with 114 tackles and had a career-high 6 1/2 sacks. Moore started 11 games that season; last year he started one after then-rookie Willis was inserted into the starting lineup during the preseason. Nolan said that with the depth the team had at inside linebacker, he felt he ultimately was going to have to cut Moore. He said Moore has been a long-time and loyal member of the 49ers and that he wanted to give the linebacker a chance to catch on with another team. "I just felt that looking down the road, the numbers that we have (at linebacker) ... I was pretty confident that in the end I was going to have to make a move with Brandon," Nolan said.
Asked whether the 49ers might be looking to add a veteran quarterback, Nolan said the "door is open to any player that makes us better," although he said there wasn't a particular quarterback the 49ers were eyeing.
Justin Smith played alongside Spikes, 31, for two seasons in Cincinnati. He said no one from the 49ers had sought his opinion about Spikes, but he gushed about him to reporters today. "Great guy," Smith said. "As far as football goes, he's just a leader. He's got that quality about him. He knows his stuff." Asked about the prospect of a Spikes and Willis inside linebacking corps, Smith said, "That's going to be one of the strongest inside linebacking corps in the middle." Both Willis and Jeff Ulbrich, who had been close to Moore, declined comment following the team's morning walk-through. Ulbrich started at "Ted" during Friday night's loss to the Raiders.
The 49ers currently have five players at inside linebacker: Willis, Ulbrich, Dontarrious Thomas, rookie Larry Grant and Dennis Haley.
As for Spikes,the Raiders, Lions, Browns, Buccaneers, Patriots and Saints all have expressed interest in the linebacker.
-- Matt Barrows