Yesterday following the 49ers victory over Seattle, 49ers.com writer Taylor Price tweeted a great picture of 49ers rookie running back Anthony Dixon waving a 49ers flag to celebrate the win. The picture I've included as part of this post is a a similar picture from a different angle.
Although Anthony Dixon did not score a touchdown yesterday, he had a career high 60 yards, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. 34 yards came on a single run, but given how much Gore's numbers have benefited from long runs, I have no problem accepting that. He still dances a bit much behind the line, but he has shown some impressive moves in his limited time. I have some friends down in SEC country and they're convinced he's going to be a stud in the NFL. I'm not sure what to expect long term, but I like the baby steps he's taking.
However, it his passion that really has me excited. Part of this might have something to do with the fact that he has replaced a player who did not have a passion for the game and quit because he lacked that passion. However, even if Glen Coffee were still around, I'm certain I'd still be excited about Anthony Dixon's unbridled passion for the game. In just about every game I see him jumping around as happy as can be. Whether it be special teams or in-game, the excitement is a thing to behold. I attended the Seahawks game in Seattle and the Broncos game in London and during the pre-game he was acting like a kid in a candy shop.
This picture of him waving the 49ers flag after the victory says it all to me. In a season that has been filled with drama, angst, and frustration, it's really a breath of fresh air to have a young guy like Dixon who is so fired up just to be out there on the football field. When things get rough as they've gotten this season, that can be what keeps the team from getting at each other's throats.
Although the 49ers are a relatively young team, they have a good number of veterans who have been around for quite some time. I have to imagine that at times the excitement can wear on them a little bit, but at the same time they have to get a little bit of a kick out of the exuberance of youth. One of my favorite quotations came from Brian Westbrook following a practice after the 49ers MNF win over Arizona:
Dixon is perhaps the most exuberant, fun-loving and gregarious player in the 49ers locker room. (Ricky Jean Francois might challenge him for that title.) In that way, he is the opposite of Westbrook, who is quiet, reserved and often is seen at practice standing by himself. "I would say I'm on one end of the spectrum and he's on the other," Westbrook said today. "He's young, he's excited, he's full of ... something. He's a very good player, though."
Whatever happens in Anthony Dixon's NFL career, right now he is quickly climbing the ranks of my favorite 49ers. He's got plenty of work to do if he wants to become a solid NFL running back. He's shown some flashes of brilliance while also having his fair share of rookie struggles. But if he can maintain the attitude he currently has, it'll be easy to root for him to find long term NFL success.