Dixon works way into 49ers' plans

August 28, 2012, 4:55 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- No player on the team has improved his stock in the offseason like running back Anthony Dixon.Dixon was a long shot when camp opened. But he has played himself onto the team, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke and offensive coordinator Greg Roman intimated in recent radio interviews.
"I think we can look to 'Dix' to have his most productive season as a Niner," Roman said Tuesday morning on KNBR.Of course, Dixon can't have his most productive season if he does not win a roster spot behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James and fullback Bruce Miller.Dixon's spot on the roster could be read as bad news for veteran Rock Cartwright, who is viewed as strictly a special-teams player. Dixon has also played well on special teams."Anthony is a 49er," Baalke said Monday on 95.7 The Game. "The guy loves to be here. He works his tail end off every day. He's had a tremendous offseason and it's staring to show."He has worked on his body. He's got himself at a good playing weight. He's learning two positions now, fullback and running back. We're pleased with what he's doing on the offensive side and also pleased with what he brings to the table on special teams."If Dixon had continued on the same path of his first two NFL seasons, he stood virtually no chance of winning a roster spot. But Dixon met the challenge even as the 49ers increased the competition he faced.
Dixon leads the 49ers with 30 carries for 116 yards rushing (3.9 average) and one touchdown during the exhibition season. He also has four catches for 18 yards, and has performed well as a lead-blocker.As a rookie in 2010, Dixon carried 70 times for 237 yards (3.4 average) and two touchdowns. Last year as the No. 3 running back, Dixon rushed for just 87 yards on 29 attempts (3.0 average) and two touchdowns."He's stepped up his preparation," Roman said. "He's another guy who's really matured as a player. He came in with a laser-beam focus this year."In other 49ers notes . . . --The 49ers gave no special favors to sixth-round draft pick Jason Slowey, who Monday was among the team's first cuts.Slowey, making the conversion from tackle at Western Oregon to center in the NFL, was definitely behind the curve. The 49ers cut just one offensive lineman on Monday, and Slowey was the person who received the bad news.Generally, the teams will want to take a longer look at draft picks. After all, a rookie such as Slowey could've had two more practices and a good portion of the exhibition finale to show what he's got.The fact the 49ers parted ways with Slowey at this point would seem to suggest they don't plan on bringing him back to the practice squad.But the 49ers made this move, in part, because Chase Beeler and Derek Hall, two former Stanford players from the practice squad a year ago, were more impressive.Chase Beeler was ahead of Slowey on the depth chart at center, and he also played some guard on Sunday against the Denver Broncos. Any backup lineman has to be able to play multiple positions.--Hall had a nice block on Denver strong safety David Bruton, a fourth-year pro, which helped spring Dixon on a 26-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.For those wondering how the 49ers approached the third exhibition game, just consider that they featured a special package with Hall replacing Leonard Davis at right guard, with Davis shifting to tight end. Defensive lineman Will Tukuafu played fullback.The 49ers used that personnel group on nine consecutive plays in the third quarter, including on a third-and-eight play."It was a special package, obviously, with a heavy run emphasis," Hall said. "I love run-blocking. I got a chance to line up and run our favorite play, our power play, and just be physical. I loved it. It was a lot of fun."Hall credits his season on the 49ers' practice squad with making him a better player. The competition he faced on a daily basis made him a better player, he said."I gained so much going against the best defense in the NFL," he said. "You can't help but get better going against Pro Bowlers like Justin (Smith) and Pat Willis. Just going against Pro Bowlers every day forces you to elevate your game and get better."Hall played defensive line when he first arrived at Stanford. In the middle of his junior year, he switched to offensive tackle. Now, he is playing mostly guard with the 49ers -- though the depth chart still lists him at tackle."My technique is better at guard," he said. "I got another year at it my guard technique. Better footwork, better hand placement. I'm more comfortable with it."--Injuries this time can play a role in shaping a team's roster. Receiver Joe Hastings sustained a hamstring injury on the second day of camp. He rehabbed and received treatment to the point that he was finally cleared. That's when the 49ers cut him. Also, outside linebacker Kourtnei Brown got cleared after rehabbing a leg injury. The team waived him, too.--Outside linebacker Eric Bakhtiari sustained a concussion that might make it even more difficult for him to earn a roster spot. Bakhtiari got hit in the head by Will Tukuafu's knee as both were pursuing Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno early in the second quarter. Bakhtiari was among the Kansas City Chiefs' first cuts a year ago following the third exhibition game after sustaining a concussion in the first game. Also, he sustained a concussion in his first NFL game with the Tennessee Titans in 2009.--Receiverreturnman Ted Ginn was hobbling around on Monday with an orthopedic boot on his right foot. X-rays taken after the game were negative. While his status for the regular-season opener is in question, Roman said the injury should not keep Ginn out too long. "I believe Teddy's going to be fine," Roman said on KNBR. "I don't think it's anything too serious."Kyle Williams is the 49ers' No. 2 punt returner.--Outside linebacker Cam Johnson's physical condition scared off a lot of NFL teams. The 49ers took a chance on him in the seventh round. His knee injury has kept him off the field. He continues to rehab his injury. The 49ers face a decision with him. He could be ticketed for the practice squad if he's healthy enough to practice at the start of the regular season.
WR: 15-Michael Crabtree, 10-Kyle Williams, 17-A.J. Jenkins, 89-Nathan Palmer, 81-Chris Owusu
LT: 74-Joe Staley, 78-Mike Person, 65-Al Netter
LG: 77-Mike Iupati, 66-Joe Looney
C: 59-Jonathan Goodwin, 67-Daniel Kilgore, 61-Chase Beeler
RG: 75-Alex Boone, 68-Leonard Davis, 71-Derek Hall
RT: 76-Anthony Davis, 69-Kenny Wiggins
TE: 85-Vernon Davis, 46-Delanie Walker, 88-Konrad Reuland, 40-Demarcus Dobbs, 48-Garrett Celek, 47-Kyle Nelson
WR: 19-Ted Ginn or 84-Randy Moss or 14-Mario Manningham, 18-Brett Swain
RB: 49-Bruce Miller, 24-Anthony Dixon
RB: 21-Frank Gore, 32-Kendall Hunter, 45-Brandon Jacobs, 23-LaMichael James, 28 Rock Cartwright
QB: 11-Alex Smith, 7-Colin Kaepernick, 1-Josh Johnson, 3-Scott Tolzien
LDT: 91-Ray McDonald, 95-Ricky Jean Francois, 40-Demarcus Dobbs
NT: 90-Isaac Sopoaga, 93-Ian Williams, 53-Tony Jerod-Eddie
RDT: 94-Justin Smith, 92-Will Tukuafu
OLB: 55-Ahmad Brooks, 98-Parys Haralson, 44-Eric Bakhtiari, 50-Cam Johnson
ILB: 53-NaVorro Bowman, 54-Larry Grant, 51-Joe Holland
ILB: 52-Patrick Willis, 56-Tavares Gooden, 57-Michael Wilhoite
OLB: 99-Aldon Smith, 98-Parys Haralson, 41-Kenny Rowe, 47-Ikaika Alama-Francis
LCB: 22-Carlos Rogers, 26-Tramaine Brock, 20-Perrish Cox
RCB: 25-Tarell Brown, 29-Chris Culliver, 33-Anthony Mosley
FS: 38-Dashon Goldson, 27-C.J. Spillman, 43-Colin Jones
SS: 31-Donte Whitner, 30-Trenton Robinson, 32-Darcel McBath, 36-Michael ThomasSPECIAL TEAMS
PR: 19-Ted Ginn, 10-Kyle Williams, 23-LaMichael James
KOR: 19-Ted Ginn, 32-Kendall Hunter, 23-LaMichael James
P: 4-Andy Lee
K: 2-David Akers
H: 4-Andy Lee
LS: 86-Brian Jennings, 47-Kyle Nelson

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