Glenn Dorsey was one of the 18 players who finished the 2014 regular season on Injured Reserve for the San Francisco 49ers.
Dorsey suffered a torn bicep on his 29th birthday back in training camp on Aug. 1 and immediately underwent surgery. Dorsey was originally placed on Injured Reserve with a designation to return, but the 6-foot-1, 297-pound defensive lineman was not able to regain enough strength in his arm.
Dorsey's season officially ended on Dec. 13 when he was placed on IR along with inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman.
"It was tough," Dorsey told 49ers.com. "I worked my way back, I didn't make it to the field, but I made a lot of progress so I'm happy about that."
Dorsey, though unable to play, could be seen working up a sweat while sparring on the field before games with strength coach Mark Uyeyama. Dorsey remains hopeful that he can pack a greater punch with a full offseason under his belt.
"I'm getting better," Dorsey said. "I'm looking forward to getting healthy for next year and playing to my full ability."
Dorsey's full ability was displayed in 2013 when he totaled 41 tackles and two sacks in a full, 16-game season. Dorsey made 13 starts at nose tackle, a position he'd never played before.
Dorsey went on to sign a two-year contract extension last August. The deal keeps the veteran defensive lineman with the 49ers through the 2016 season.
Dorsey will once again compete for playing time with another member of the 18-man IR list, nose tackle Ian Williams, who suffered a season-ending leg injury in a Week 10 road victory over the New Orleans Saints.
With Dorsey and Williams sidelined, San Francisco finished the season with second-year defensive lineman Quinton Dial as the starting nose tackle.
All three will get a chance to impress the team's next head coach.
The San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle has become an important part of the team since signing as a free agent before the 2013 season.
Dorsey admitted that he'll be keeping a close eye on the hiring process.
"I think everybody is watching," Dorsey said. "Everybody is eager to know how our new head coach is going to be. I'm going to be watching out for it, listening to the media and hear what they say about it.
"It's going to be interesting."
Dorsey said he's also paying close attention to whether or not Justin Smith returns for his 15th season.
"I respect him either way," Dorsey said. "You always want to play next to a guy like that and have him in your locker room."
So does Dorsey expect Smith, who is reportedly contemplating retirement, come back for another year with the 49ers?
"We'll see," Dorsey said. "You never know. I won't put it past him."
San Francisco's defensive line could look quite different in 2015. There are plenty of unknowns at this point.
One thing's for sure: Contracted players like Dorsey, will take time to reflect on what happened in '14 and come back prepared to pursue the team's ultimate goal.
"The guys have a chance to get away from ball for a little bit," Dorsey said. "We'll recharge, get reenergized and come back with a little bit more hunger and get ready to try to win a Super Bowl."
Dorsey said there's some good to be gleaned from an 8-8 season that saw 18 players unable to finish it.
The 49ers built depth.
"We have the type of players around here where everybody can contribute," Dorsey said. "We just have to keep it going."