Just three days after running back Glen Coffee unexpectedly left the team to devote his life to Jesus, Anthony Dixon may have gained on Robinson in the competition to back up Frank Gore.
Robinson started and had a touchdown in place of Gore, who sat this one out, but he fumbled on the first play from scrimmage when safety Antoine Bethea hit the ball with his helmet. Indy’s Robert Mathis recovered, setting up an easy field goal for Adam Vinatieri.
Dixon didn’t get a snap until the 49ers’ first possession of the second quarter, but he managed to steal the show. On one run, he shed one Colt in the backfield and juked two others on the way to a 23-yard gain. On his fourth-quarter touchdown run, he bounced outside and flattened defensive back Mike Newton with a stiff arm.
“Like I always say, cornerbacks, they really don’t want to see me on a daily basis,” Dixon noted with his ever-present smile. “So once I saw him, I knew it was pretty much cake.”
Dixon finished with 100 yards on 21 carries and added three catches for 22 yards. Robinson had five rushing attempts for 13 yards.
The 49ers’ brain trust has been saying all summer that Dixon is far behind when it comes to details like blitz pickup and technique, and that he dances too much before hitting the hole. If Dixon screwed up Sunday, it didn’t cost the 49ers dearly.
Afterward, though, coach Mike Singletary – ever the motivator – was tepid in his praise.
“I thought he did a good job,” Singletary said. “He’s still learning when he has to attack the hole and when to throw a move here and there. I think he is young, but obviously shows he has the talent and the strength to do some things.”
Dixon didn’t know he had cracked the 100-yard mark, and didn’t sound like he particularly cared. He has a chance to get significant carries in 2010, not a bad proposition for a sixth-round draft choice.
“I was just out there to put in work,” Dixon said. “Didn’t really matter how many yards I ended up with. I just want the team to know I’m gonna run hard and I’m gonna be a weapon for us this year.”