Q. Which veterans are on the bubble?
A. Running back Anthony Dixon is one of the only veterans on the bubble for the 49ers. He is entering his third season with the team, but this is the first time he has faced competition at training camp and the preseason. In addition to Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter already on the 49ers, they also signed three running backs in the offseason. Dixon was supposed to be the odd man out but he asked Jim Harbaugh if he could also play at fullback during training camp. His willingness to also play fullback is helping his chances of making the final roster. His performance has been steadily improving and he carried the ball 13 times for 52 yards and had a 26-yard touchdown run against the Broncos last weekend. Expect to see lots of Dixon running all over the field on Thursday as it will be his final chance to make his case.
Q. Which youngsters are making a roster push?
A. Versatile player Demarcus Dobbs is making a real roster push. Entering his second season in the NFL, he normally lines up on the field at defensive end, but the 49ers have been also using him at tight end. He has surprisingly played well at tight end during the preseason, showing he can block and also catch passes. Oh, and he also plays on special teams. Dobbs will be a huge asset for the 49ers, but he was seen on seen on crutches this week and it is unknown if the injury is serious.
Q. Just a comment: we are jealous of your city for approving a new stadium.
A. Ha, well for the fans living in San Francisco and the old-school diehard 49ers Faithful, it is nice to have a new stadium, but the team is building it in Santa Clara which is about 45 miles away. Grant it, 49ers team headquarters is in Santa Clara, which is why they are moving there, but they will still have San Francisco in their name. If you are going to be called San Francisco, shouldn’t you play in or somewhere near the city? That’s like the Chargers moving to Orange County for a new stadium, but still keeping San Diego in the team name.
Q. How is LaMichael James panning out so far?
A. James is slowly coming along, but I expect some big things from him in his rookie season. He often gets compared to Raven’s running back Ray Rice, but I think he will be used more like Saints running back Darren Sproles. Harbaugh will be lining him up all over the field on offense. Like Sproles, James can also return punts and kickoffs.
Q. What are your expectations for your 49ers this season?
A. The 49ers will finish the season 12-4 and win the NFC West for the second straight season. The 49ers have a much tougher schedule, having to play against the top-five passing offenses from last season, but they are returning all 11 of their defensive players and 9 of their 11 offensive players from last season. The expectations are high and we will not settle for anything less than going to the Super Bowl.