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SANTA CLARA – Quinton Dial wants to keep a low profile in his second NFL start.
Ian Williams is out for the season with a broken leg, and Glenn Dorsey will be out at least another week as he continues to rehab from a biceps tear that required surgery in August.
That means the 49ers will turn to their depth on the defensive line with Dial, a fifth-round draft pick in 2013, expected to play a major role for the team’s sixth-ranked run defense against Washington at Levi’s Stadium.
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“I have something to prove each and every week because that’s the standard around here,” Dial said. “We don’t like people to run the ball on us. That just challenges your manhood. So I feel I have to step it up a notch. If teams think they can come in and run the ball, that’s something we take pride in, lining up and stopping the run.”
Dial was pressed into service in the second half of the 49ers’ Nov. 9 game against the New Orleans Saints. After a performance he described as “so-so,” he worked with defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to improve his technique last week in his first career NFL start against the New York Giants.
“I went in and talked to Jimmy T, and see what I could do different with these blocks or those blocks,” Dial said. “We worked on it all week in practice, so I felt like I came out better when we played the Giants. I was prepared for it.”
Dial played just 14 snaps, but it was more than enough to hold up his end of the bargain. He recorded four tackles, and the Giants averaged just 3.1 yards on 21 rushing attempts. The 49ers forced New York to become one-dimensional on offense. The nose tackle is the first 49ers defensive player to leave the field when the 49ers go with their nickel defense. While Dial was on the sideline, Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw five interceptions.
The big issue for Dial, he said, is to exhibit good leverage in the middle of the line by playing smaller than his 6-foot-5 3/8 frame.
“You never see a 6-6 nose guard in the NFL, so that’s a challenge for me,” Dial said. “It’s something I always work on, when I’m by myself, off to the side. Shuffle down the line and try to stay as low as possible. It’s coming along.”
Dorsey, who is 4 inches shorter than Dial, has been impressed with what he’s seen from him from a young player with whom he has worked extensively.
“He’s a taller guy, but he has a low center of gravity,” Dorsey said. “Especially playing nose guard, you always want to stay low because they can throw so much at you. They can bait you sometimes. You got to stay with your technique and stay low. He’s strong enough and big enough. He’s a good player.”