Each year, we like to run a series of posts called "90-in-90." The idea is that we'll take a look at every player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few ways. This roster will certainly change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not exactly 90 players in 90 days. At this point, it's a name we're keeping around for street cred.
A year ago, the San Francisco 49ers used a fifth round pick on Alabama defensive tackle Quinton Dial. The 49ers placed him on the non-football injury list to start the season due to a turf toe injury he suffered during the 2012 college football season. Dial had surgery in January of 2013. He was on hand for OTAs and training camp, but he was unable to participate as he let his foot heal.
Dial spent the required six games on the NFI list, and then the 49ers were quick to activate him. He was on the 53-man roster for the remaining ten games. He was active for four of the games, and got brief playing time in three of those games. Dial was a participant in Weeks 7, 8, and 12. He finished with 7, 8, and 3 defensive snaps, respectively, and then 5, 3, and 0 special teams snaps, respectively.
Dial is the quintessential 3-4 defensive end. He stands 6'5", 318 pounds and is blessed with long arms (34.5 inches). He is able to see the see the ball carrier, even over a tall tackle. When I picture Dial, I think about how Calais Campbell has an advantage with his size alone. I can see a lot of similarities with Dial, and believe he has amazing potential.
There has been some chatter that he could also get some work at nose tackle, but that remains to be seen. He got some opportunities at nose tackle in college, so it's a position he can play. We'll see more of the 49ers plans for him when the preseason gets here.
What to expect in 2014:
Dial played for a brief spell, but not enough in my mind to break it up into "will he improve" and "will he regress". Dial has been projected as a reserve defensive lineman, and if he makes the roster in 2014, that's the kind of role he will play. The 49ers have quite a bit of depth along the line. After Justin Smith and Ray McDonald on the edges, they've got Dial, Tank Carradine, Demarcus Dobbs, and Tony Jerod-Eddie as the front runners. They've also got Lawrence Okoye, Kaleb Ramsey, and Mike Purcell all competing for time. Glenn Dorsey and Ian Williams are the primary competitors at nose tackle. I suspect we'd see Dial inactive a fair amount of the time in 2014. This will depend in part on how many defensive linemen they keep, but I see Dial inactive potentially as much as half the season.
Odds of making the roster:
The 49ers were quick to activate Dial off the NFI, but more importantly they were ready to activate him on game day that first week he was on the roster. He did not get to do on-field work during the offseason, and then the NFI designation continued that into training camp, preseason action, and the first six weeks of the regular season. It says a lot for Dial that the team was ready to get him out there with so little on-field NFL experience. He faces increased competition this year, but the team seems to have some measure of confidence in him. I think he's got a very good chance of making the roster, but at the very least I look forward to finally seeing him in some extensive preseason action.