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Quinton Dial Mentored by Veteran Justin Smith

Posted Jul 1, 2014

The second-year defensive tackle is picking up tips from the Pro Bowler and applying them to his offseason workouts with the San Francisco 49ers.

Quinton Dial isn’t the loudest player in the San Francisco 49ers locker room.

Not by a long shot.

The 6-foot-5, 318-pound defensive tackle, however, used his voice for good during his rookie season with the 49ers.

The fifth-round draft pick out of Alabama started the year on the team’s non-football injury list after a toe injury hampered his participation in offseason practices. But when Dial was sidelined, he used his time to study the workout habits of his veteran teammates. In doing so, he picked up a valuable lesson.

Speak up when you want to learn how to play like Justin Smith.

Dial observed Smith and the rest of the 49ers defensive linemen working on a pass-rushing maneuver taught by position coach Jim Tomsula. The young lineman also recognized Smith using it to his benefit during games.

So Dial, soft-spoken in nature despite his massive size, approached Smith about the technique.

“He showed me how do it and ever since I’ve been using it,” Dial said. “Since that day when he helped me out, I feel like I can ask him anything and he’ll help me out.

"You just have to be brave and ask.”

Dial put his new skill to use when he was activated in Week 7 of the regular season. Dial saw the field three times as a rookie. He recorded one tackle, the only of his career, in the team’s Week 8 blowout win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Dial’s toe issue is very much a thing of the past. The second-year pro said he felt fully healed by Week 14 of his rookie campaign.

The brief experience on the field helped Dial’s confidence going into his first full offseason in San Francisco. Instead of watching his teammates go through practice, he’s getting to do everything with them.  

“I’m getting a better feel for things now,” Dial said. “I know the playbook, I know everything. I’ve been out there doing it.”

Jim Harbaugh praised his entire defensive line group for its offseason performance.

“All of our defensive line is really doing everything that we ask and doing a very good, precise job,” the 49ers coach said. “It’s been a real good offseason for all of our defensive linemen.”

The group includes second-round draft pick Tank Carradine, who like Dial, missed the start of the ’13 season due to a lingering college injury. In Carradine’s case, it was a torn ACL.

Dial and Carradine have built a bond from the commonality of their experience as rookies. Their lockers are close by at the 49ers facility.

“It’s been good working with Tank,” Dial said. “He’s a strong guy and he's fun to watch. We just let it go when we’re out there.”

Dial is taking note of all of his fellow defensive linemen. You can tell he has a sense of pride when talking about the depth of the group.

So while much of the offseason fanfare has been devoted to San Francisco’s robust wide receiver and running back depth, Dial has no problem pointing out the talent on the defensive line.

“In my opinion, it’s the best group,” he said. “We have a lot of wise guys, a lot of experience in the room that you can look up to, guys that you can come to if you need anything and ask questions.”

Smith, the 14-year veteran, is the leading mentor. A close second goes to Ray McDonald, who is entering his eighth season.

“I’m in here learning from Justin and Ray as much I can,” Dial said.

The reserve lineman has proven his ability to absorb knowledge when he discusses his plans leading up to training camp.

“I’ve been focused on getting stronger, getting back to what I was doing, addressing double-team blocks, because really with this toe injury I felt like I lost some of my strength,” Dial said.

The 49ers have the next three weeks off until they meet for training camp, but Dial is not stopping his momentum.

“I’m still going to train,” he said. “I’ll probably take a day or two off and then I’ll get right back at it before camp.”


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