Quinton Dial makes adjustment to new 49ers scheme

Quinton Dial makes adjustment to new 49ers scheme

SANTA CLARA – A year ago, defensive lineman Quinton Dial signed a three-year contract extension with the 49ers and was widely considered a building block for the team’s future.

But Dial’s name has remained mostly absent from the conversation for much of this offseason as the 49ers selected a defensive lineman with their top draft selection for the third year in a row.

“I’m not really concerned about it,” Dial told NBC Sports Bay Area. “My name will be said a lot in the fall. I’m going to make my presence be known when the season gets here. That’s the least of my worries, having the media talk about me. I know how hard I worked this offseason to get to where I’m at now.”

While the 49ers have spent first-round picks to land Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas over the past three years, Dial remains largely unaffected. Dial is working exclusively at nose tackle. Armstead, Buckner and Thomas fill the other three spots in the 49ers’ 4-3 defensive alignment.

Dial has spent the offseason working mostly with the second-team defense behind veteran Earl Mitchell, who has vast experience in the 49ers’ new scheme.

“I think it’s going to be pretty good for me once I can get all these techniques down and all of the things they’re asking me to do,” Dial said.

Dial is making the adjustment from being responsible for two gaps to now playing in a one-gap scheme. Whereas the 49ers’ recent schemes were based on read-and-react mentalities, new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has implemented a more aggressive mindset.

The nose tackle previously lined up directly over the center. Now, the position shades to one side of the center. Dial said his biggest adjustment will come when run plays go to the outside and he must move along with the center and guard to maintain the same angles. Dial said he believes the new defense will result in more opportunities to make plays in the backfield.

“I played a 3-4 scheme, so that’s primarily two-gapping,” Dial said. “And now we’re just a one-gap defense. That’s totally different. So, now, you’re basically shooting a gap and penetrating instead of reading. So that’s quite an adjustment I have to make, but it’ll be good.”

Major adjustments are required for a defense that ranked among the worst in NFL history, allowing 2,654 yards rushing (165.9 per game) and 25 touchdowns. Dial said he believes the 49ers’ leadership was part of the problem a year ago.

“I think when you take into consideration guys not being accountable to themselves to their teammates, No. 1, first and foremost,,” Dial said. “And when the coaching staff doesn’t hold you to a higher standard than you should be held to, I don’t think that’s a good combination. You’re set up for failure.

“Losing sucks. It’s something I don’t ever want to get accustomed to. We talk in that room now that there’s a standard that’s been set before us. Guys who played long before us set a standard. We need to uphold that standard. If somebody is bull-(bleeping), you need to get called out in front of the D-line, and it’s going to be handled accordingly.”

49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks


49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks

The 49ers hosted two veteran cornerbacks on free-agent visits the past two days and could be signing either Jaylen Watkins or LaDarius Gunter as they wind down their activity on the free-agent market.

“We’re really pleased with what we’ve done,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday. “I’ll never say never. We’ve had a couple of guys visit in the last couple of days. Perhaps we’ll do something there. But for the most part, we’re wrapped up and pleased with what we’ve been able to do.”

The 49ers do not have much depth behind presumptive starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. The team is also likely to add to its depth in the draft.

The 49ers met with Gunter (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) on Thursday. Gunter, 25, started 15 games for the Green Bay Packers in 2016. He recorded 54 tackles and broke up 12 passes. He signed with the Packers in 2015 as an undrafted rookie from Miami.

Gunter was waived at the beginning of last season and the Carolina Panthers claimed him. He appeared in just four games with Carolina, which did not tender him as a restricted free agent.

The 49ers on Wednesday met with Watkins, 26, a versatile defensive back who appeared in 36 games with five starts in four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Watkins (5-11, 195) played three snaps on defense and 17 plays on special teams in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. He entered the NFL in 2014 as a fourth-round draft pick from Florida.

Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'


Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'

STANFORD – Free-agent safety Eric Reid chatted with 49ers general manager John Lynch on the sideline, then moved into position onto the field for an up-close view of his brother’s pro day workout Thursday at Stanford University.

Younger brother, Justin, is aiming to be a first-round draft pick like Eric, whom the 49ers selected with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Both football futures of the Reid brothers remain uncertain. Justin's fate will be determined on draft day. Eric Reid remains in limbo as an NFL free agent. He has not gotten any action in the first week of free agency, and the 49ers have not made him a contract offer, he said.

But Lynch said the 49ers are closely monitoring Reid’s situation. However, the organization already has three safeties they like: Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert.

“Eric played and played well for us last year,” Lynch said. “I think he’s stuck in a safety market that’s been quiet. And I would anticipate things starting to shake for him and we’ll see.

“I’d never say never. I really do think opportunities will start to come his way. We’ve been monitoring it closely and we’ll see how that shakes out.”

Reid, 26, a six-year NFL veteran, said his agent has spoken recently to “a couple of teams,” but no contracts or visits have been proposed.

Reid’s market might be impacted by his up-front role in the protests of racial inequality of the past two seasons. Reid and Colin Kaepernick were the first players to take a knee during the national anthem at the beginning of the 2016 season.

Reid said he would probably not take part in any future protests during the national anthem.

“From the beginning, Colin has been flexible,” Reid said. “He started by sitting. He changed it up. We decided to kneel. And we understand that you got to change with the times. So I’m not saying I’m going to stop being active, because I won’t. I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country to improve on.

“I don’t think it’ll be in the form of protesting during the anthem. And I said ‘during’ because it’s crazy to me that the narrative got changed to we were protesting the anthem, because that wasn’t the case. But I think we’re going to take a different approach to how to be active.”

Reid said he has no regrets. He said he is willing to deal with the consequences of how NFL teams viewed his role in the protests.

“I stand by what I’ve done,” Reid said. “I know why I’ve done it. My faith in God is the reason. I can go to sleep at night confident I did what I was called to do. I’m just gong to stay positive and keep trying to stay in shape and wait and see what happens.

“I said at the end of last season I’m OK no matter what happens.”