DL Quinton Dial Says 49ers Defense Gets a Blank Slate in 2016

Tabula rasa: a Latin phrase translated to "blank slate" in English.

That's the expression Chip Kelly used this week when he met with the San Francisco 49ers defense for the first time.

"The thing I got from that was we just got a fresh start. We aren't too concerned with what happened last year," Quinton Dial told reporters on Wednesday. "That's a thing of the past now. We've just got to focus on what's ahead."

For reference sake, San Francisco ranked 18th in scoring defense and 29th in total defense last season.

To do his part in helping the unit improve in 2016, Dial spent a significant portion of his offseason going back and watching film of himself. Dissecting tape and being his own harshest critic has given him an idea about where he can make an impact.

"I saw some of the stuff that I can work on and get better at," Dial said. "And then try to continue to grow on the things that I was pretty good at, and try to build on it."

Last year was Dial's first season as a full-time starter. The 25-year-old defensive lineman started 15 games and logged a career high 2.5 sacks and 59 tackles. San Francisco rewarded Dial's contributions with a three-year contract extension on Feb. 24 through the 2019 season.

Dial, who was a fifth-round pick in 2013, has proven to be one of Trent Baalke's better late-round finds during his tenure as the 49ers general manager.

"Throughout his first three seasons in the NFL, Quinton has shown consistent development and has become a key contributor in our defense," Baalke said in the team's official release back in February. 

Now Dial's role has grown from a relied-upon starter to a respected veteran leader in the locker room. That adds the responsibility of looking after the young players on the roster, especially along Dial's defensive line.

The top images of 49ers defensive lineman Quinton Dial, who enters his third NFL season after being a fifth-round pick in 2013.

When asked about Arik Armstead, the team's 2015 first-round pick, Dial said 6-foot-7 lineman is on the right path after a solid rookie campaign.

"He's definitely grown a lot as a young guy, and he's helped us out a lot," Dial said of Armstead, who posted two sacks last season. "We had a lot of conversations throughout the offseason about stuff we can learn from last year and get better together as a unit. We're going to continue to try and do that."

Dial also echoed sentiments made by running back Pierre Garçon and linebacker NaVorro Bowman in regards to the current morale of the team. Since arriving on Monday for the start of the offseason program, the entire roster has been in good spirits and motivated for what's ahead.

"It's not a surprise. It's our job, you know? It's been a good vibe around here, which is good," Dial said. "It just makes everybody a joy to be around. I'm just looking forward to continuing to work with the guys."

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