Here at Niners Nation, we're presenting a series called "90-in-90". We'll be looking at every player on the 49ers offseason roster, one player per post, from now until the start of training camp.
The San Francisco 49ers spent much of the 2013 offseason turning over their defensive line and adding depth. Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and Isaac Sopoaga did great work on the line, but they wore down by the end of the season. And once Justin Smith went down with his injury, the defense struggled mightily. You can't just replace a guy like Justin Smith, but the team added more depth to potentially keep Justin Smith closer to 100% for a longer stretch of time.
Tank Carradine and Glenn Dorsey were the two big-name pickups, but Quinton Dial is a guy who could provide the kind of grunt work that can earn a roster spot. He faces a lot of competition for playing time, but as we discussed a few days ago, Dial could prove himself to be particularly adept at run-stopping all along the defensive line. I'd also recommend checking out the scouting report his college roommate put together.
The 49ers used a fifth-round pick on the Alabama defensive lineman. He stands 6'5, 318 pounds, making him a monster of a man. He played all along the Tide's 3-4, and worked his way into their four-man fronts as well. He had toe surgery in January, and has sat during the team's OTAs, but it sounds like he has a good chance to be back in time for training camp.
What to expect in 2013
If Dial is healthy and makes the roster, he's a guy who could fill a sort of Ricky Jean Francois type of role. RJF could do a little bit of everything, filling in for Sopoaga, Smith and McDonald at different times. Dial could be a similar type of player.
That being said, much of his playing time potential will depend on factors out of his control. The 49ers brought in Dorsey, extended Ian Williams and drafted Carradine. Dial will likely get some third or fourth string nose tackle snaps in training camp. At defensive end, his options could depend in part on how Dorsey does at nose tackle, and how Carradine recovers from his torn ACL.
If Dial makes the roster, I could see him getting some mop-up duty, but in reality, spending more time inactive. As is often the case with young guys on the 49ers, it's a tough numbers game. Do you see more out of him in 2013 if he's on the 53-man roster?
Odds of making the roster
The 49ers obviously like Dial, but given the depth at defensive line, he still faces an uphill battle to make the roster. You hope a fifth-round pick does not get wasted, but he's still a bit of a bubble guy. He has to contend with Dorsey, Williams and Carradine, as I mentioned above, but he also has to contend with the likes of Lawrence Okoye, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Will Tukuafu, Lamar Divens and Demarcus Dobbs.
Dial has an edge on some of them, but strong performances by a couple of these guys in training camp and the preseason could make it tough for Dial. I think he makes the roster, and I think he has better than a 50-50 chance due in large part to his versatility. However, it certainly won't be handed to him on a silver platter.