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Quinton Dial Stepping into Leadership Role after Offseason Contract Extension

Posted May 20, 2016

Dial and the rest of San Francisco’s defensive linemen have invested time and energy in providing wisdom to their rookie counterparts.



Coffee? Yes.

Doughnuts? No.

Trail mix, healthy snacks and even some beef jerky? Yes.

DeForest Buckner, like all San Francisco 49ers rookies, will be responsible for supplying meeting-room snacks for his veteran teammates. It's a rite of passage in the NFL. The afformentioned orders will be the requests of fourth-year defensive lineman Quinton Dial.

“When training camp comes, he’ll be on them duties,” Dial said while grinning on the most recent 49ers Radio podcast.

The lineman knows the routine. Dial did the same thing for the likes of Justin Smith when he joined the 49ers in 2013 as a fifth-round pick.

The acquisition of snacks, however, is not a one-way transaction.

Dial and the rest of San Francisco’s defensive linemen will invest time and energy in providing wisdom to their rookie counterparts.

“I’ll take him under my wing,” Dial said of Buckner, the team’s selection at No. 7 overall in this year’s draft. “(I will) show him the ropes and try to give him a few tips here and there to help his game and help us in the long run.”

According to Dial, who inked a three-year contract extension earlier this offseason through 2019, the most important thing is re-establishing a dominant style of defensive play.

“We have to take our game to another level to play to the standard that these guys have set for us a long time ago," Dial said.

San Francisco ranked 29th in total defense and run defense last season, allowing 387.4 yards of offense and 126.3 rushing yards per game.

The numbers have not been forgotten by Dial.

“We’ve got to uphold that standard because last year, that wasn’t upheld,” he said. “That’s a thing of the past now, but it’s something to add fuel to the fire because everyone is counting us out now. That’s fine. I like to be the underdog. At the end of the day, the standard is what it is and you’ve got to uphold it.”

Despite the team’s 5-11 record, Dial set career highs with 15 starts, 73 tackles and 2.5 sacks. His contract extension, coupled with back-to-back first-round picks on the defensive line, emphasizes the 49ers commitment to getting bigger and stronger in the trenches.

“It really and truly starts up front,” Dial said. “If you ain’t got that solid d-line or offensive line up front, then everything else is irrelevant.”

During San Francisco’s Organized Team Activities, Dial has relished the role of being a veteran mentor. But he’s also clearly intent on proving his worth to a new coaching staff.

“I’m trying to show the coaches I can be that guy they can count on in all situations,” Dial said.

OTAs for defensive linemen are not exactly the place to shine. Pad-less, contact-free practice sessions will be friendly to the offense. A defensive tackle like Dial, however, can still find ways to hone his skills.

For starters, the high-speed nature of Chip Kelly’s practices can have an instant impact on a 6-foot-5, 318-pound defender.

“My cardio is at a pretty high level right now, but thing is, you have to have a mentally strong mindset to get through these practices,” Dial said. “I don’t struggle with that at all. Once the ball has been snapped, I read my keys and I’m trying to get to the ball. The next play, I look to the sideline and I try to get the call to line up and do it all over again.”

Dial watches film from previous practices and harps on one specific thing to improve. He’ll write it down and attack it the following day.

This process lends itself to Kelly’s “Win the Day” mantra that has left a lasting mark from his days at Oregon.

“You can win the day in the meetings, in the weight room and on the practice fields,” Dial said of what the "WTD" saying means to him. “It’s maximizing your opportunities to the fullest extent.”

Dial hopes to continue winning the offseason by soaking up valuable information from respected defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro. Dial said he enjoys the deliberate nature of the team’s d-line drills and how players understand how the work on the field will translate to regular-season games.

As Dial and the 49ers defense continue to work to avenge last season’s results, the emerging lineman takes pride in being thought of as a building block for future seasons to come.

“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Dial said of his contract extension and newfound leadership role. “I’m happy to be a part of this organization. Words can’t describe how I feel about the opportunity that I have.

“The grind won’t stop just because I signed that extension. I still have a chip on my shoulder.”


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