With no draft picks in rounds 4 or 5 of the 2010 NFL Draft, it was a long wait for 49ers fans during the final day of selections. When pick 4 in round 6 finally came around, San Francisco handed in its card with Mississippi State Bulldogs running back Anthony Dixon's name on it. After the long wait, and a more pressing need at CB, this certainly wasn't the flashiest pick of the draft. Many 49ers fans wanted a different style at RB, someone who offers a change of pace. At 6'1, 235 pounds, Dixon could be just that - a tough inside runner that can simply run defenders over. After all, Frank Gore isn't exactly a bulldozer (5'9, 217) and having a large back to wear down defenses could prove just as beneficial as a speedster on the edges.
Not only is Dixon a bruiser, but he typically fits in the 49ers game plan. If Mike Singletary wants a team that can hit people in the mouth, Dixon fits that mold. Furthermore, Dixon ran out of the shotgun formation a large amount of the time during the 2009 season. This could prove beneficial for Dixon making the 49ers roster, being familiar with a formation the 49ers relied heavily upon in the latter half of 2009. If Dixon can provide the same physical style he displayed in college, he could seriously threaten Glen Coffee as the team's number 2 running back. At the very least, Dixon could be a goal line specialist, having never fumbled the ball in his collegiate career while setting the career TD record for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
After the jump, Jeremy Flint helps paint a better picture of what to expect from Dixon...
When Dixon's name was called on draft day, I didn't know a lot about the 4-year starter from the SEC, other than that he was projected to go anywhere between rounds 3-6 by many mock experts. After watching several YouTube videos, and reading up on his game logs, I became optimistic about Dixon's chances to make an impact. To get a better idea on just how well Dixon performed as a Bulldog, I emailed Jeremy Flint from "For Whom The Cowbell Tolls", hoping he could provide me with some important factoids. Read Below:
1. How did Dixon perform in big game situations?
Dixon was our workhorse on offense, especially during his senior season. He left MSU holding just about every offensive/rushing record you can hold, including most rushing TDs, career rushing yards, and career rushing attempts.
2. Did Dixon ever just flat out disappear in games, or was he pretty consistent? How did he do against the better programs the team faced?
He was pretty consistent unless the team we were up against was scheming their defense to contain him specifically. If you look at his senior season, he was only below 100 yards 3 times (against Florida, Auburn and Alabama).
3. A rough estimate on how many times Dixon ran out of the shotgun formation?
With the move to the spread system last year, he probably ran 65-75% out of the shotgun. Before that, he would mostly run out of some type i-formation or lots of pro formations with a full back.
4. Any character issues, off the field problems, or general mischief?
The only off the field problem was in August of 2009. Dixon was stopped and arrested for DUI. He subsequently was suspended from the opening game against Jackson State. I think he pleaded guilty and paid a fine since it was his first offense. Other than that, he hasn't been any trouble off the field.
Basically, the 49ers are getting a seasoned runner, that has good vision and a physical style. Jeremy also added that Dixon "fights for every yard he can get and has great balance" and "loves the physical aspect of the game and loves contact". If that doesn't fit the Mike Singletary model, I'm not sure what does. With a thin RB corps, Dixon is almost a lock to make the roster. The important question is, will he overtake Coffee on the depth chart?