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Justin Smith: Quinton Dial Has 'Nastiness to Him'

Posted Oct 24, 2013

The 49ers rookie nose tackle has drawn positive feedback from both his more experienced teammate and his defensive coordinator.

Justin Smith may never endure a week's worth of pre-game practices again.

At 34 and in his 13th season, Smith doesn't need the reps.

At 23 and weeks into his rookie campaign, Quinton Dial clearly does.

"Just sticking with the padded practices is helping me," said Smith, who missed Wednesday's in-shorts session because of a minor shoulder ailment. "Maybe it just takes me a day longer to recuperate (from game days)."

Added his defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio: "I don’t think he’ll ever have a full-practice regimen say like Quinton Dial would, or even some of the other guys. And I don’t have much concern there. Justin knows his body better than anybody."

Dial, on the other hand, is under the microscope. It's clear that many eyes are on his No. 73 red practice jersey this week as San Francisco prepares for its Week 8 matchup with the Jackonville Jaguars on Sunday in London.

The fifth-round draftee last April has been rushed into action because of attrition at the nose tackle position. He didn't record his first NFL tackle in his pro debut during the team's win at Tennessee on Sunday, but his second-oldest teammate came away impressed.

"He got in there, and he had a little nastiness to him -- that's what I like seeing," Smith said of Dial, who was on the Non-Football Injury List the first seven weeks of the season due to offseason surgery. "Roughing it up a little bit, trying to get in a fight out there. That's good. He's got that fire that you need. I thought he did a good job."

Dial, who spelled starter Glenn Dorsey at times against the Titans, is still a work-in-progress.

"He didn’t get a lot of plays in the game, but it was really good just to get him out there and get him in game situations so he knows what that’s all about, what it would feel like," Fangio said. "And think he’ll improve little by little as we go.”

Asked about how light Dial appeared on his feet -- Dial stands 6-foot-5 and 318 pounds -- Fangio said he was not surprised.

“That’s what we saw when we drafted him," the defensive play-caller said. "We liked obviously his size and thought he moved well for a guy his size. And we thought his best football was in front of him. I think he’s done a good job since he’s gotten here of improving his body.

"And he’s still got a long ways to go. But I think he’s a guy that will eventually get there.”

Where the Alabama product is now will have to suffice for Sunday. The Jaguars offensive lineman that Dial would most often line up against -- Jacksonville center Brad Meester -- "is still a damn good player" able to block his way to the second level.

Dial, Dorsey and Co. should be licking their chops. Jacksonville has yielded an NFL-high 28 sacks through Week 7.


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