When the San Francisco 49ers drafted DL Quinton Dial in the fifth-round (No. 157) of the 2013 NFL draft, I wasn’t totally thrilled. A player who had limited starting experience with a questionable motor, Dial was somewhat of a project coming in as a rookie.
[Related: Why 49ers Quinton Dial should be ‘Dialed-Up’ At Nose Tackle in Glenn Dorsey’s Absence]
Fast forward to today and Dial has been nothing more than the epitome of an over-achiever. A versatile player who can play both the four-technique or zero-technique has made Dial a key asset along the 49ers defensive line.
In 14 games last season, Dial recorded 30 tackles and 2.0 sacks. Respectable stats for a player that didn’t get starter reps until Week 9, Dial has since been a bright spot. Not to mention, 3-4 defensive lineman in general do not fill up stat sheets but are rather graded on their ability to be space-eaters while occupying multiple blockers, Dial should see a permanent starter role in 2015.
And what about third-year DE Tank Carradine you ask? He will also be in the mix as he is arguably the team’s best pass-rusher along the defensive line outside of DE Justin Smith–and will most likely be used in sub-packages.
But when matched up against Dial’s skill-set, there is no one who has earned it more than Q. His 34.5-inch arm-length alone is enough to anchor the point of attack while peaking into the backfield. How many times have we seen offensive lineman try to put their hands on the behemoth 315-pound mountain only to see them fail? Too many. And while Dial lacks an ideal pass-rush, he more than makes up for it with his ability to stack-and-shed.
Aside from Dial’s size it’s his mean streak that catches my eye. No matter if it’s bringing down ball-carriers or taking a shot at the quarterback, you can be sure Dial will display bad intentions on any given snap. A purely aggressive monster down in the trenches, you need a player like that who can physically impose his will on the daily, and that’s exactly what Dial brings to the table.
Whether maintaing gap integrity or pushing the pocket, Dial has ‘dialed-up’ his game to another level in 2014 and will be looking to improve on that performance in 2015. A player that will likely see snaps at both defensive-end and nose-tackle, it looks like the 49ers have found their diamond in the rough for the foreseeable future.