With the San Francisco 49ers recently making roster moves to meet the league-mandated 75-player limit, the team has handled some of their easier roster moves. Before the end of the week, at least 22 more players will not make the 53-man roster for opening day, meaning there are many more difficult decisions to make. One player who has been in the middle of roster conversations in the offseason is running back Anthony Dixon.
The No. 3 running back to Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter last season, the 49ers added rookie LaMichael James, former New York Giants back Brandon Jacobs, and veteran Rock Cartwright to the mix. With Gore, Hunter, James, and fullback Bruce Miller all locks for the team, Dixon's roster spot was presumably going to be gone before the start of the regular season. However, based on his performance in training camp and during preseason games, he could find himself a role in this crowded backfield.
In the team's three exhibition games, Dixon leads all 49ers with 30 carries for 116 yards rushing and one touchdown. Receiving plenty of playing time with Gore seeing little action, he just might have played himself onto the team with his play on offense and on special teams, which could give him an edge over special-teams-only contributor Cartwright. Dixon has also had a chance to play at fullback and has been a good lead-blocker during preseason games.
Dixon's tenure on the team ultimately depends on versatility and special teams. Last season, the 49ers kept three players, in addition to specialists David Akers, Andy Lee, and Brian Jennings, solely for their contributions on special teams. Cartwright was brought in to potentially replace Blake Costanzo, now with the Chicago Bears, but if Dixon is able to perform well in both that role and on offense, he could have an edge to stay over the former Oakland Raiders player.
Another big sign boding well for Dixon is the comments made by general manager Trent Baalke in a recent radio interview on 95.7 The Game.
"Anthony is a 49er," Baalke said Monday. "He works his tail end off every day. He's had a tremendous offseason and it's starting to show.
"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."
With the support of Baalke and offensive coordinator Greg Roman coupled with his growth during the offseason, Dixon versatility may make Cartwright the odd man out.
Dixon works way into 49ers' plans, CSN Bay Area
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