The highlight of Monday's player press conferences came when Quinton Dial revealed a nickname Jim Tomsula bestowed upon him. Tomsula has been referring to DeAndrew White as "Alabama", which led to a question about it for Dial (also an Alabama product). When asked if Tomsula had ever called him that, Dial said, "Nah, he called me Alabama Asshole."
Naturally this got people laughing. Lawrence Okoye came in a bit later, and the media asked him if the nickname was apt for Dial. Okoye said it was. He said Dial is a tough, hard-working, feisty guy, and guys in the locker room would tell you he's not a guy you want to cross.
Dial worked his way into the 49ers starting lineup the latter half of 2014 due to injuries at the nose tackle position. He is competing to start at the right defensive end position, and all indications are that he will get the starting nod. He is also getting work at defensive tackle in the nickel while Darnell Dockett prepares to join the team in group drills. Even when Dockett gets settled, it is clear Dial will have an active role on this defense.
The 49ers are transitioning away from Justin Smith and Ray McDonald, and that kind of tough attitude sounds pretty ideal. It does not automatically carry over to strong play, but we've seen enough from Dial that I am pretty excited to see what he can do in a full-season starting role on the defensive line.
And in case you're wondering, Dial is plenty fired up as the team adds pads to practice on Tuesday. When asked about it, Dial said, "Somebody's gotta pay for the work I've been putting in." Through much of his press conference he looked ready to finish up and get back to practice. But when someone brought up pads, he lit up with excitement. You can take it with the proverbial grain of salt, but this kind of stuff puts him high on my list of players I can't wait to see in action when game action arrives.