The 49ers defensive line may get rookie reinforcements at some point this season, but Vic Fangio today said he has no idea when draft picks Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial will be back, and in Dial's case, what position he'll play.
"It's all just supposition right now," the 49ers defensive coordinator said. "These guys have not been on the field once, they're both coming off extensive surgeries on their legs, and we've got to see where they're at physically before we really know anything."
At 6-5, 318 pounds, Dial is the team's largest defender. He played both defensive end and nose tackle in Alabama's pro-style defense. "It's definitely a similar style to the way coach (Nick) Saban ran his program - an NFL-style defense," Dial said of the 49ers system. "It's very similar. It's just the terminology is different."
Theoretically, Dial could step in as a nose tackle if the 49ers have more injuries at the position later this year. The starter there, Ian Williams, broke his ankle on Sunday and is out for the season. Glenn Dorsey and Tony Jerod-Eddie will man the position now.
Dial's timeline, however, remains a question mark. He and Carradine (and Marcus Lattimore and Eric Wright) are on the non-football injury list, meaning the earliest they can play is Week 7, which is the team's Oct. 20 game at Tennessee.
But he first must get healthy.
Dial, a fifth-round pick, had surgery to repair a ligament in his big toe in January. He said he has "good days and bad days" when it comes to the rehabilitation. "I mean, it's way bigger than some people suspect it is," he said. "Because I had somebody tell me, 'Oh, you'll be back in no time.' And I'm like, 'Yeah, right.' It's a long process with this rehab. I'm just trying to take care of it the best I can."
The 49ers have said they envision Carradine, a second-round pick, as a defensive end. He tore his right ACL on Nov. 24.
Thursday injury report:
Did Not Participate: TE Vernon Davis (hamstring), DT Ray McDonald (ankles)
Limited Participation: LB Navorro Bowman (wrist), RB LaMichael James (knee), S Eric Reid (concussion), LB Aldon Smith (back), DT Justin Smith (shoulder)
Full Participation: G Mike Iupati (shoulder), QB Colin Kaepernick (foot)
Did Not Participate: TE Dwayne Allen (hip), S Antoine Bethea (toe), S LaRon Landry (ankle)
Limited Participation: LB Pat Angerer (knee), WR T.Y. Hilton (groin)
Full Participation: LB Kavell Conner (ankle), WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (ribs), WR David Reed (quadricep), C Samson Satele (elbow), WR Reggie Wayne (shoulder)
-- Matt Barrows