Dixon accepts challenge from 49ers coaches

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Dixon accepts challenge from 49ers coaches

SANTA CLARA -- When the 49ers brought in three veteran free-agent running backs for tryouts on Tuesday, it did not escape the attention of Anthony Dixon."I'm not going to say I didn't see it or I didn't hear about it," Dixon said Friday as he sat in front of his locker after practice."They want me to bring it even more. I feel like I have, but there's always room for improvement. I'm down for it, so I'm ready to go."Dixon, a sixth-round draft pick in 2010, carried the ball 70 times for 237 yards and two touchdowns in his first NFL season out of Mississippi State. But rookie fourth-round pick Kendall Hunter beat out Dixon for the backup job during training camp.
Dixon said head coach Jim Harbaugh, running backs coach Tom Rathman and special-teams coordinator Brad Seely have each challenged him to improve every aspect of his game."Coaches are just trying for me to be perfect," Dixon said. "That's the way I see it. They want me to be perfect, and we all know how hard that is to achieve. But they feel like I can do it, and I feel like I can do it.""They want me to be just that much more crisp. I'm down for it. I've accepted it (the challenge), and I'm ready to go."Dixon has been primarily a special-teams player for the 49ers. He played just two snaps of offense while starter Frank Gore and Hunter have combined to take the vast majority of the plays.On a third-and-1 on the final play of the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys, Dixon gained 6 yards off left tackle. The 49ers went on to score a touchdown on the drive. It was the only time Dixon touched the ball through four games.With Gore hobbled with an ankle sprain, Dixon expected to see some action Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. But he never got onto the field for any offensive plays."Yeah, that was disappointing," Dixon said. "It definitely threw my attitude off a little bit. He (Harbaugh) challenged me to get my attitude back in check, too. I got to work on getting my attitude back into shape and being that much more polished on my plays."While Harbaugh and the coaches have asked Dixon to turn up his level of execution, the head coach has requested that he tone down his action on special teams. Dixon said Harbaugh has told him to stop talking to the opponent's sideline after plays."It's what he wants me to do," Dixon said. "It's the Harbaugh way. I got to learn to do things the Harbaugh way, and then maybe I'll see the field some more."I'm ready. I can't wait to get the opportunity. I feel like I can bring another dimension to the offense. I just got to wait for my opportunity. . . . It kind of messes with my attitude sometimes, but I know coach wants me to get (it) right, get special teams right, be perfect on that."So how did Dixon perform in the week of practice after accepting the challenge from the 49ers' coaching staff?"I definitely picked it up, working harder," he said. "I'm just trying to get perfect and hope I can go out there and deliver a perfect performance."

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly is back in college football.

The former Oregon coach, who served as 49ers head coach last season, signed a multiyear deal as an ESPN analyst, the network announced Friday morning. He will work predominantly on pre-games, halftimes and in studio wraps each Saturday on ESPN2.

“Over the last 30 years, I have experienced football from one perspective – as a coach,” Kelly said in a statement. “Working in television will allow me to see the game from a different angle; simultaneously, I‘ll provide viewers an insight to the mindset of a coach and team while offering alternative views of various situations.

“Once I decided to make the move to TV, my familiarity with ESPN, combined with their high-quality production and vital role in college football, it was easily the best network suited for me.”

Kelly, 53, was fired on the evening of the 49ers’ season finale. The 49ers went 2-14 under Kelly and set the franchise record with 13 consecutive losses. Their only victories came against the Los Angeles Rams. Kelly also auditioned with FOX for the analyst job vacated when John Lynch became 49ers general manager, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area.

Kelly served as Oregon’s head coach from 2009 to ’12. His teams compiled a record of 46-7. Under Kelly, the Ducks advanced to the 2011 national championship game, losing to Auburn 22-19.

Kelly won the AP College Football Coach of the Year. He twice won the Pac-10 coach of the year. He left Oregon to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. After his first two NFL teams went 10-6, Kelly was fired in 2015 with one game remaining in the season. The Eagles were 6-9 at the time of Kelly's firing.

“Chip is one of the most innovative football minds of our generation,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting said. “As a coach, he saw the game from a unique perspective, never afraid to take an unconventional approach. We want him to bring that mentality to our college football coverage each week, offering fans a varying viewpoint outside of the conventional thought process.”

Bills sign two former 49ers

Bills sign two former 49ers

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.