The last person I talked with in the locker room provided the most content, so I’ll start with him. Anthony Dixon is rarely at a loss for words, either in the locker room, on the field or via his Twitter account. Dixon keeps everyone loose, but he goes into this offseason as an unrestricted free agent.
Dixon, who got 70 carries in his rookie year but averaged just 26 per season in the three years after Harbaugh took over, would like an opportunity to show he’s good enough to be a full-time running back in the NFL. The 49ers will have a healthy Marcus Lattimore next season, so unless they value Dixon’s special teams contributions highly there is a good chance they’ll pass on re-signing him.
I chatted with Dixon about this season and his four-year tenure with the San Francisco 49ers, how this loss feels, and his role(s) as an NFL player. After a little while we were joined by a group of other reporters, including Matt Barrows, Matt Maiocco and Cam Inman, and I included their questions as well.
Dixon: I think it was a good season for us. We didn’t get to the ultimate goal, but it was a good season. We battled through some stuff, we battled through the ups and downs. The same thing goes for myself. I started low on the depth chart, but I got to play a whole lot. I played every game, I didn’t miss a game. So, I’m proud of that accomplishment. I take pride in being there every day and being available. I played in every game, gave it my all, so I have no regrets.
BASG: Have you talked to the team at all about a potential return?
Dixon: I haven’t yet. I don’t really know how it’s going to go.
BASG: What do you think you proved this season? Probably versatility is something that’s going to be first on the list.
Dixon: Yeah, I think that’s what I proved more than anything, that I’m a versatile player. And I’m mentally strong, also. Because I dealt with a lot of different things. But I fought through it and kept my focus. Not getting to play like I wanted to, battled through that and stayed focused and I didn’t gripe about it and stayed a team player. I think I really proved that I’m a versatile player and I’m a team player.
BASG: Do you consider yourself a goal-line back, especially considering yesterday’s game?
Dixon: I consider myself a running back. I can run in the middle of the field, or backed up. It doesn’t matter. I feel like I can do whatever they ask me to do. Goal-line? I’m going to do that. Whatever.
BASG: If this ends up being it for you, how do you feel about your career with the 49ers as a whole?
Dixon: I feel great about it. Growing up, my childhood, the 49ers were my favorite team. Big Jerry Rice fan, because he was from Mississippi. He was one of the first dudes I clung onto. I’m just happy I could come here and help get it back to where it was. When I first got here, we were terrible. But I knew just from hanging out with the guys and talking to the guys, our main goal was we were going to be winners. We were going to get it back to where it was, we were going to win a championship. We didn’t win the big championship, but we won (the NFC Championship last year). So I could say at least we got one of our goals. Man, I’m going to be happy. Just proud I could suit up. I played here four years, never missed a game. That’s the thing I’m most proud about, that I was there every day and my teammates could count on me. I don’t have any regrets.
BASG: How does this feeling today compare with how it was after losing the Super Bowl?
Dixon: Um, it’s really the same feeling. You just feel like you had it taken away from you. Now it’s off to the offseason. I won’t take it as hard as I did the Super Bowl, though. I learned from that and I experienced it last year. And I know that if I sit around and whine about it, it’s not really going to help. I learned that last year. This year I’ll be better for it. It’s just going to make me stronger. I’ll be better, get back to work faster. Hopefully, wherever I’m at, we get it going again.
Dixon: Yeah, I just wanted to show people I’m a team player. It doesn’t matter where you put me, I can be productive. That’s all I aim to do. Play special teams, running back, fullback, a little split end, whatever. I love to play football, so I definitely want to continue to play and I’m just trying to show people that I love the game.
Barrows: You scored twice from the 1-yard line. Only one counted, but do you think you showed some ability there to kind of go up over the pile?
Dixon: Oh yeah, I’m pretty sure they already know I could do that. If you watch the film, you know I could do that and I’m capable of that type of stuff. It’s just a matter of me getting my opportunities. I don’t really get a lot here, but if you watch the film you’ll see I’ve got talent.
Maiocco: Was that the exact same play?
Dixon: It was the exact same play.
Maiocco: Did that surprise you that they went with the exact same play?
Dixon: No, because when I went to the sideline Coach Harbaugh was pretty pumped up about it. He was saying, ‘Oh, I’m glad somebody went over the top.’ He was kind of waiting on that. He called it again, and I said, ‘I’m definitely going over the top again.’ If that’s what makes him happy, you know? It was cool.
Barrows: You seemed to get better air the second time.
Dixon: Yeah, the second time I got warmed up. First one was a warmup. The second time, I just knew I had to get in. It was a big game. I said, ‘Man, just jump as high as you can.’ I felt like I did that the first time, but when I looked at it I’m like, ‘Nah, that wasn’t all you had. You could’ve had more.” The second time, I said, ‘It doesn’t matter what happens. Just go get it.’
Inman: Did you know the way Mike (Iupati) was hurt?
Dixon: No, I didn’t. I didn’t know until I got to the sideline and back to the water to get a little drink. I looked back, and somebody was down.
BASG: Who do you think gets higher, you or Ahmad?***
Dixon: We’ve actually been on the court, and I think it’s me. Ahmad might say different, but I think I’ve got him.
*** Upon further review, I probably should have substituted the word “jumps” for “gets.” That’s something I’ll have to work on this offseason, figuring out how to construct better questions.