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SANTA CLARA – Quinton Dial might have been an under-the-radar fifth-round draft pick of the 49ers in 2013, but the team always had high hopes for him.
And, now, everyone else can see why.
Through two weeks of practices, nobody on the 49ers’ defensive line has made more eye-popping plays than Dial. At 6 foot 5, 318 pounds, Dial has regularly tossed around offensive linemen like bales of straw and breaking into the backfield.
“Yeah, I’m just a country boy,” Dial remarked when asked about his extraordinary strength.
Growing up in central Alabama, Dial said his strength was developed naturally. He cut trees, and hauled wood and bales of hay. He practically lived in the 49ers’ weight room following his rookie season after missing most of his first year with the 49ers after undergoing toe surgery before the draft.
Dial figures prominently into the 49ers’ plans this season. He might be counted on help the team compensate for the loss of nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, who was scheduled to undergo surgery Monday to repair a torn biceps. The nose tackle played approximately 40 percent of the team's defensive snaps last season -- mostly on first and second downs.
“I’m a physical guy,” Dial said. “That’s what I pride myself in and bring it to the table for this team. We’re known as a physical team. So I just pride myself in coming to work every day and bringing my lunch pail.”
Dial is no stranger to playing the nose tackle position. He saw action there during his college days at Alabama. And he certainly has the strength to contend with double-team blocks from the NFL centers and guards.
“I’d say the biggest challenge is just getting back into the routine and playing the blocks and stuff,” he said. “It’s going to come. It’s just going to take a few days for me to get back used to it.”
Dial is expected to see extensive playing time during the exhibition season, beginning Thursday evening against the Baltimore Ravens. The 49ers will remain in the Baltimore area for joint practices with the Ravens on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
“I’m ready to hit somebody else now,” Dial said.
You can be sure the 49ers’ offensive linemen feel the same way.