Spikes: 'I'm loving every minute of it'

Niners linebacker Takeo Spikes gives his takes on a variety of subjects as the 49ers prepare to play Buffalo, a place where Spikes earned two Pro Bowl berths.

On looking forward to returning to Buffalo: Yea I'm looking forward to it. There's just so much history. A lot of good times and I think it was the first place I really could call home. Even since then, just because I had some many good times. I still talk to a lot of people there as well.

On his thoughts on the reception he might receive back in front of the Bills crowd: Yea I thought about it several times. I don't think I left in a bad way and from time to time when I see the games on TV, I see a lot of 51 jerseys in the crowd. And I would like to think that a lot of those 51's, I just can't really see them going, no disrespect to Paul (Posluszny), but I just don't see them buying another 51 jersey. I think I put enough good work in to where they kept mine.

On wishing his time in Buffalo ended better: Yea you always do. I told somebody one time before I talked to Mario (Haggan) and (Angelo) Crowell all the time. I told them I never would have thought, even up in my third year, that I never would have thought that I would not have; put it this way I told them I that I thought I would retire as a Buffalo Bill. Just as far as playing my years out there, the rest of my contract, even maybe getting another contract. That's what I meant by that. Not saying that it can't happen to retire but I'm just saying playing the years out in another deal. I never thought that would not have happened.

On why he felt Buffalo was so special: I think it was just genuine. I think about it from Day One. That last game of the year back in 2002 when I was playing with Cincinnati and the fans, it was almost like a recruitment trip coming out of high school to college. And I saw the mock jerseys with ‘Spikes' on them saying Spikes you're a free agent, you know we want you here. And just to go through that process and just to see it come true and as I got there, it was a great fit for me. And to have the success that I had there as quickly as I did, just talking about the first game of the year, it kind of just affected everything else after that.

On playing for head coach Mike Singletary: I think what he has brought in is accountability. He's brought in hope. A lot of everything he brings to this football team is a true reflection of him. He's an emotional guy. He's going to let you know how he feels and I think the reason why players respect him, not only because he's a Hall of Fame player/coach now, but he tells the truth. If you're not getting it down he will let you know you're not getting it done and what he wants to see out of you. And as a player, you hear it all the time, but the reason why you hear it all the time is because you never get shot straight in this league. From most people you never get shot straight. And I think that's the one thing I think everybody respects out of him.

On the Bills offense struggling against 3-4 fronts this season: Yea I've looked at several other games that they had in the 3-4 fronts that they faced. We just saw a lot of mix up. One thing about us is that we really don't sit back in vanilla as far as certain fronts. They went against the Jets, they played against Cleveland and I think it's all different. I think all the 3-4's are different and I think a lot of it starts with what you have up front, especially at the nose guard position. And if you can get somebody who is pretty stout, who's athletic, I remember looking at the film against Cleveland. Shaun (Rogers) was going up against Duke (Preston) and at times he played him regular and at times he was slanting across his face and that kind of messed up the plays. So there's a lot of stuff out there with what we've been looking at.

On how good LB Patrick Willis is: The real deal. I always tell him, I think the reason why he's my closest friend on the team out here. I think the reason why is because when I look at him, he's just a younger version of me. His desire, he's blessed with a lot of athletic ability but it doesn't just stop there him, his desire I think what makes him the player that he is. I remember when I got here, a couple weeks in the first part of the season when I finally started starting, I had some plays to where I was able to read the plays a little bit faster than him. Some players will have pride and just wouldn't say anything, but he was the type of guy that he asked how. He's not afraid to ask how were you able to read it that fast or how can I get in that position to be able to understand that or how can I study film. From that aspect we just grew closer and closer kind of every day. It's kind of like the relationship that me and London (Fletcher) had, but I don't think it would be nothing like that but me and Pat, we have a special relationship here.

On, at 3-8, what is on the line for the 49ers right now?: I'll take a prime example, Coach Singletary came into the meeting room today saying I'm thinking 8-8. But in order to get to 8-8, you have to take them one at a time. This week let's focus on Buffalo and that's our approach. My mentality is our record is out the door. To me I don't want to be looked at as a 3-8 team. But you are what you are at the end of the day a 3-8 team. But whenever I put on the film on my resume at the end of the day, I want people to walk away and say he is not a 3-8 player. And that's what I solely focus on every time I step on the field.

On being known as a guy who gave it his all for his team despite the personal accomplishments: You pretty much summed it up. I'm not going to give up. It's frustrating. But I'll continue to do that and that's mainly because of the fact that going back to my first year in the league, seeing a lot of guys in the offseason, a lot of my colleagues, the respect factor that you get from guys on different teams will tell you ‘Spikes you guys suck'. This is from Hines (Ward). Hines told me this, back in '99, ‘Spikes you guys suck but you guys played your butt off'. So from that point it let me know that regardless of whatever people's perception may be because perception runs a long way not only in life but in this league, but people notice certain things or certain players on the field that went balls to the wall every time.

On overcoming injuries and putting up the kind of production he is in San Francisco: It was satisfying and I'm loving every minute of it. It was tough going back to 2005. It was something that I had been dealing with. I had been dealing with it in 2004 but the injury happened in '05. I knew '06 was going to be a struggling year because you have to get acclimated to it. I talk to a lot of guys who came off the injury and they told me it was like until you get that confidence that you're able to stick and break and push off of it and that's when your regular play will start to show up on film. And I got banged up again there again in that year. I think directly that was a direct reflection of the Achilles, so it was tough that year. And going to Philly and in Philly I didn't have a bad year but I got hot late in the year but ended up tearing my rotator cuff at the end of the year in week 15, so it's just bad breaks.

On when breaks might start working in his favor: I'm still searching. That's a good question. I try not to get caught up in why me. But when it was going to happen to me and I know that when it's going to happen I need to make sure that I'm doing everything that I'm supposed to do and that's the only thing that keeps me focused to where I don't get dragged down by people having bad conversations about ‘we ain't doing this' or ‘we're not doing that' or ‘we don't play this type of scheme'. That's the way I continue to stay focused. I just get away from that type of stuff and I just only worry about Takeo because I know that if I do what I'm supposed to do, everything else will fall into place because I want to be ready. It's going to happen. Lord knows it needs to happen soon because my time is not the way it used to be versus when I got to Buffalo. I'm on the back nine now and I just started the back nine now.


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