SANTA CLARA -- When the 49ers brought in three veteran running backs for tryouts in the middle of last season, Anthony Dixon knew he was being issued a challenge.And things got a lot more serious for Dixon this offseason when the 49ers signed veteran Brandon Jacobs and drafted LaMichael James in the second round.Suddenly, it became apparent the 49ers' No. 3 running back from a year ago is going to have to perform at a high level just to have continued employment with the 49ers for a third season."You just got to compete," Dixon said Thursday after a two-hour practice. "Coach (Jim) Harbaugh always says, 'Work and don't worry.' That's what I do. "It's competition. I love competition. I grew up with three brothers. All we did was compete, all day, every day. It's nothing to me."Dixon rushed for 87 yards on just 30 attempts last season. His commitment level appears to be much greater this offseason as his spot on the 49ers' roster looks tenuous."This year I didn't take a break. I didn't go home. I stayed here the whole offseason working, coming to the facility every day, working on my game," Dixon said. "Judging from what Coach (Tom) Rathman and some of the other guys are saying, you can see it. My burst looks better, my weight is better."Dixon said he has maintained his weight in the 235- to 240-pound range. His body fat, however, is down significantly, he said. Dixon realizes he must match the work ethic of the 49ers' other running backs -- and, perhaps, exceed it.After all, he said it has been a disappointment to be the 49ers' third running back in each of his first two seasons. As a rookie, he was behind Frank Gore and Brian Westbrook. Last season, Kendall Hunter replaced Westbrook as Gore's primary backup."With me being the competitor I am, of course, that disappointed me a little bit to not show I can tote the load," Dixon said. "I'm just hoping I can keep getting the plays right and keep doing my job so the coaches trust me and I get more plays. It's definitely still in me. I can go out there and be the workhorse."Dixon's biggest opportunity last season came in the NFC championship game when he entered for Gore early in the fourth quarter with the 49ers leading 14-10 and driving.On a second-and-4 situation from midfield, Dixon picked up 3 yards. He remained on the field for third and 1. New York Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn and defensive tackle Linval Joseph tripped him up for no gain, and the 49ers let a scoring opportunity get away."I did a lot of thinking about that whole game, even on special teams," Dixon said. "That was a tough one to swallow. Even that carry. I just wish I could've seen him or something. He barely got me by the foot. That kind of stuff hurts. At the same time, you got to move on. It's in the past and I don't think abut it much now. Everybody could've been better in that game. That's where you leave it and you come back and try to get better." Receiver Chris Owusu, an undrafted rookie from Stanford, is expected to take part in the team's minicamp next week. Owusu and defensive tackle Matthew Masifilo have been unable to participate in most of the 49ers' offseason program until Stanford holds its graduation ceremony. James is the lone rookie who is not eligible to participate in next week's minicamp. Oregon's graduation is scheduled for mid-June. The 49ers' minicamp is set to run Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Then, the club will not have any organized meetings until the opening of training camp in late July. Linebackers coach Jim Leavitt, who started the South Florida football program and took it to a national level in his 13-year stint, walked into quite a situation with the 49ers last year. Leavitt coached two All-Pro inside linebackers: Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman."Pat and NaVorro are special," Leavitt said. "They ask so many questions. They want to be great. When I first met Pat, he said to me, "I hope you don't mind me asking a lot of questions.'"What kind of questions does he ask?"Everything from A to Z," Leavitt said.
The Buffalo Bills have signed two 49ers free agents within the past two days.
After signing wide receiver Rod Streater on Wednesday, the Bills announced the signing of linebacker Gerald Hodges on Thursday.
The 49ers acquired Hodges in a 2015 trade with the Minnesota Vikings for center Nick Easton and a sixth-round draft pick. Hodges started 12 games last season and ranked second on the team with 92 tackles.
Hodges left the 49ers shorthanded for a late-season game against the Atlanta Falcons when he violated team rules. Then-coach Chip Kelly did not disclose the nature of Hodges infraction. Hodges offered no explanation or apology.
The 49ers entered the game against the high-powered Falcons with just two healthy inside linebackers due to Hodges’ deactivation. Starter Nick Bellore sustained an elbow injury on the third play of the game, and the 49ers were forced to use safeties Antoine Bethea and Vinnie Sunseri, and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks at various points of the game.
The 49ers showed no interest in re-signing Hodges as a free agent.
Streater, a five-year NFL veteran, saw action in all 16 games last season after being acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in September. He caught 18 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns.
It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.
The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.
An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.
Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.
"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.
Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.
"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.