SANTA CLARA – Last season, Anthony Dixon was the 49ers’ short-yardage running back. Now, he’s competing for that job with Brandon Jacobs, whom San Francisco signed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract in March.
Dixon caught up with reporters today to talk about his mentality this offseason, the improvements he’s made to his game and his no-gain carry on third-and-one in the NFC championship game.
Q: What specifically do you want to improve on?
DIXON: Just being perfect. Trying to do everything right. That was probably my main problem last year, being sound on all my assignments. That’s what I’m working towards. Just trying to be perfect on special teams, offense, whatever coach wants me to do.
Q: Were you on every special teams last year?
DIXON: Yeah. Pretty much same thing for this year. Me and Coach Seely got a good relationship. I know by the way he talks to me and by the way he coaches me that he wants me to do well. I’m just out there trying to give my all for him, make him look good, myself and the whole organization.
Q: Are you going to be different physically going into this season?
DIXON: Oh yeah, definitely. I didn’t even take a break (after the NFC championship game loss). I haven’t been home yet. I stayed up here the whole offseason coming to the facility and working on my game. Judging from Coach Rathman and what some of the other guys are saying, you can see it. My burst looks better, my weight’s better, so I’ve just got to keep working and take care of my body.
Q: Has your weight changed?
DIXON: I’ll be around the same 235-240 pounds range, but the body fat went down. I just put in more work.
Q: What do you have to do to make this team and make a contribution this year?
DIXON: Just got to compete. Coach Harbaugh is always saying, “Work and don’t worry,” and that’s definitely what I do. We all help each other. I help Brandon (Jacobs). I help Rock (Cartwright). I help Jewel (Hampton). All the new guys. It’s competition. I love competition. I grew up with three brothers and all we did was compete – all day, every day. I’m enjoying it. I’m having fun with these guys. This is my family for right now, so I’m just soaking up all the moments and trying to be perfect. That’s what all of us are reaching for in the running backs’ room.
Q: In a preseason game against the Colts a couple seasons ago you just went nuts. Are you disappointed that you haven’t gotten a chance to really show that ability in the regular season?
DIXON: With me being the competitor I am, of course that disappointed me a little bit – not to be able to show them I can tote the load. But the thing with me is I’m trying to be a team player. That’s all I’m focused on. I’m just hoping that I can keep getting plays right and keep doing my job to where coach trusts me and I can get more plays. That’s definitely still in me. I’ve still got that capability. I still can go out there and be the workhorse. I’m just trying to work. Hopefully I’ll get the trust and they can put me out there again.
Q: Do you ever think about that carry on third-and-one from the NFC championship game?
DIXON: Yeah, I did a lot of thinking about that whole game – even about special teams. That was a tough one to swallow, that carry. I just wish that I could have seen him or something. He barely got me by the foot. That type of stuff hurts, but at the same time you’ve got to move on. That stuff is in the past and I really don’t think about it much now, but of course if they’re playing the replay or anything like that I always think about it. Everybody could have been better in that game and that’s where you leave it. Come back and keep working and try to get better.
Q: Has there been anything specific that Rathman has pointed out to you that he likes?
DIXON: Yeah – my plays. Just getting them right, being in the right spots. He says he sees 10-times improvement. That’s the little stuff as a player that you try to take with you and build on. Just trying to be perfect every day. I haven’t been perfect every day, but I’ve been close to it.