SANTA CLARA — Earlier this summer, the 49ers said they were keeping Takeo Spikes' phone number handy in case they needed a linebacker.

Apparently, they had him on speed dial.

After just one exhibition game, the 49ers waived linebacker Brandon Moore and summoned Spikes to team headquarters.

The two-time All-Pro selection signed a contract Sunday evening, ending a flirtation that began shortly after Spikes was released by the Philadelphia Eagles on March 6.

The last hurdle was passing a physical exam — hardly a formality since Spikes, 31, had shoulder surgery in December. But the 49ers gave him a green light and the 11-year veteran signed on the dotted line.

Spikes brings a long resume. He has reached 100 tackles in eight of his 10 NFL seasons (according to the teams' count), including last year when the shoulder injury knocked him out of the final two games.

Spikes was unavailable for comment, but by Sunday morning his impending arrival was hardly a secret in the locker room.

Defensive end Justin Smith, who spent two seasons with Spikes in Cincinnati, was excited about having him as a teammate again.

"He's everything you want in a football player — smart, gifted, talented and a sure tackler,'' Smith said. "He's just a leader. He has that quality about him. He knows his stuff."

Despite missing the Eagles' final two games, Spikes finished second on the team in tackles.

During a career that also includes stops with the Bengals (1998-2002) and Buffalo Bills (2003-06) Spikes has 22.5 sacks, 15 fumble recoveries, 12 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and 48 passes defensed.

The 49ers are confident Spikes can still make an impact, especially when paired with linebacker Patrick Willis.

"It's going to be one of the strongest linebacker corps in the middle, with him and Patrick,'' Smith said.

Takeo — named after former Japanese Prime Minister Takeo Miki — was the 13th overall selection out of Auburn in the 1998 draft. He reached the Pro Bowl in 2003 and 2004.

His nicknames include "TKO" and "Spikedog." The 49ers will call him "Ted." That's their name for the strong inside linebacker position opposite Willis.

Jeff Ulbrich, who had been penciled as the starter at Ted, declined comment when approached by reporters early Sunday.

Willis, too, was reluctant to discuss the decision that ended Moore's six-year tenure with the team.

Willis has the locker that sat between those of Ulbrich and Moore.

"It's a business. That's all I can say,'' Willis said. "A decision was made, and the situation had to be carried out."

Moore, 29, enjoyed a breakout season in 2006, when the 49ers credited him with 114 tackles, 6.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. But he started just once last season, playing primarily on third down and in pass-rushing situations.

This year, Moore had failed to make a strong impression in camp and had a forgettable exhibition opener against the Raiders on Friday.

Sunday, as the Spikes deal inched closer, coach Mike Nolan informed Moore of the team's decision to let him go.

"He was disappointed, naturally,'' Nolan said. "But as I explained to him: I think this gives him an opportunity. There are other teams that are interested in him.

"He's been a loyal 49er. He's worked his tail off. Never been an issue. He's a good character person. I think he can play, and he can add something to somebody's (roster)."

Spikes had long been rumored as a potential 49er. After the Eagles cut him, in a move that saved them $5 million against the salary cap, Nolan and general manager Scot McCloughan frequently acknowledged keeping tabs.

Now, the speculation is over: The former Eagle has landed.

Asked if anybody from the 49ers had sought him out for a character reference, Smith just smiled.

"I think Takeo's record speaks for itself,'' he said.

Contact Daniel Brown at dbrown@mercurynews.com.

Takeo Spikes
The veteran linebacker has reached 100 tackles in eight of his 10 NFL seasons.