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Craig Dahl Focuses On Progress

When the San Francisco 49ers signed Craig Dahl to a three-year contract in March, general manager Trent Baalke praised the incoming safety for his "excellent intangibles."

The veteran defensive back has proved his general manager right with his attitude on the practice fields with San Francisco.

Dahl has been lining up as first-team free safety at Organized Team Activities alongside Pro Bowl safety Donte Whitner. Dahl nearly intercepted a Colin Kaepernick pass on the second day of OTAs, but was unable to haul in the takeaway during a 7-on-7 period in the red zone. Even so, Dahl read the 49ers starting quarterback and broke perfectly on a pass intended for tight end Cameron Morrah on the goal line.

Dahl is working with the first-team this offseason and is not looking over his shoulder at the second-team free safety, Eric Reid, San Francisco's first-round draft pick out of LSU.

Dahl looks forward to upcoming offseason OTAs and a veteran minicamp. There, both players will have more chances to earn the starting spot.

As competitive as both players can be, Dahl is all about passing on knowledge to all of the team's young defensive backs. Dahl came into the league undrafted in 2007 and had to earn his roster spot with the New York Giants to begin his professional career. The experienced safety continues to value all of his opportunities.

"I'm just trying to get better each day personally and then try to help these younger guys come along," the seven-year veteran with 335 career tackles said. Dahl is solely focused on learning the 49ers defense and improving each day of the offseason.

"Whatever happens is out of my hands," he said. "I'm going to put my best foot forward, keep getting better and keep progressing as if I'm going to be the starter."

Dahl, 27, comes to San Francisco following a four-year stint with the St. Louis Rams. He has familiarity with the 49ers roster after starting for a Rams team that was the only NFC West club not defeated by San Francisco in 2012. Dahl started 40 of 61 games for the Rams and produced his first, 100-tackle season with the Rams last year.

Dahl has working knowledge of the 49ers offensive personnel from previous seasons, but he's still working on building personal relationships with his new teammates.

With Whitner, the working relationship has been a positive development in Dahl's first two months with the 49ers.

"He's on point," Dahl said of Whitner. "He knows the ins and outs of the system and he's really coming along. He's helping the other guys learn, too. That's just an experienced vet, bringing up everyone with them."

With veterans throughout the team's defensive backfield depth chart, a group that includes Carlos Rogers and Nnamdi Asomugha, Dahl has been impressed with how many interceptions and pass breakups the group turned in on the third day of OTAs on Thursday.

"I think the defense is coming along," Dahl said. "The guys we had out there were making good calls. There were some picks and some pass breakups.

"It was good for the defensive side of the ball."

The defense will look to maintain its play-making ways when the 49ers get together for three more days of OTAs starting Tuesday.


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