(This is the second part in a series that spotlights five 49ers players to watch in the team's exhibition game Sunday, 1 p.m. (FOX-TV), at the Denver Broncos.)
No. 5 -- Ikaika Alama-Francis
The numbers do not add up for Anthony Dixon, the 49ers' No. 3 running back his first two seasons in the NFL.The 49ers made it infinitely more difficult for Dixon to keep his job this season. Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, the team's top two backs, are going nowhere.And the 49ers added veteran Brandon Jacobs as a free agent. Jacobs might be out for the remainder of the exhibition season with a knee injury, but coach Jim Harbaugh said Jacobs has shown enough to earn a spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster.RELATED: Projected 49ers' 53-man roster and practice squad
The 49ers also invested a second-round draft pick on LaMichael James, so his spot on the roster is assured, too. At best, Dixon looks like the No. 5 running back. And the club also signed veteran Rock Cartwright for his special-teams contributions.The good news is that Dixon did not back down from the offseason challenge.He asked for a chance at fullback. And he has put together the best training camp of his career. In the past, there were questions about his commitment and willingness to play with a physical nature. Those concerns have not been expressed this summer."I thought Anthony had one of his best games since I've been here," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said of his performance last week against the Houston Texans."(I) was very pleased with his physicality, his preparation and how he played. He did a great job. He needs to have another great one this week."Dixon's only chance to win a roster spot is to excel on special teams. Even then, it might not be enough to remain with the 49ers.Over a span of five days, there will be nearly 1,200 players trimmed from NFL rosters. Those players will be eyeing opportunities with other clubs. Dixon does not have any practice-squad eligibility, so it's either he's going to be on a 53-man roster or he's going to be unemployed.If he does not stick with the 49ers, he can open eyes of another running-back-needy team with a strong finish to the exhibition season.