INDIANAPOLIS -- Anthony Dixon's 21-carry, 100-yard rushing effort in his NFL exhibition debut might not dissuade the San Francisco 49ers from adding a veteran running back following Glen Coffee's surprise retirement.
Whatever worries the 49ers had regarding their depth behind starter Frank Gore probably diminished, at least.
Dixon's brutal stiff-arm near the goal line Sunday resembled the one Arizona Cardinals rookie Beanie Wells used in a nationally televised game against the New York Giants last season. A violent stiff-arm serves notice that a running back is carrying the ball with attitude. Wells proved last season he can play with that attitude. Dixon has similar intentions -- and he was all smiles in the locker room when the subject came up.
"Like I always say, the cornerbacks, they really don't want to see me on a daily basis," Dixon said. "Once I saw him, I knew it was pretty much cake."
The 5-yard touchdown run in Sunday's 37-17 win against the Colts resulted from what Dixon described as a zone-read play.
"It felt good," Dixon said. "I've been waiting for that day."
Gore was one of several high-profile 49ers to sit out the exhibition opener Sunday. Special-teams standout Michael Robinson started at running back, losing a fumble on the 49ers' first play from scrimmage. Dixon would be the easy choice in the No. 2 spot if the 49ers knew they could trust him in pass protection, an area often problematic for inexperienced players. That aspect could lead the team to sign or acquire a veteran.
By Dixon's estimate, he blocked a couple plays effectively and missed a couple others. Overall, he said he was operating on about 60 percent playbook and 40 percent instincts.
"It's just getting better with the terminology and the language," Dixon said. "That is what I am constantly working on every day, learning how to put it in their words so they can accept me and know I'm ready to play."
Coach Mike Singletary said the 49ers were looking at "pretty decent options" at the position. As for Dixon?
"He is still learning when he has to attack the hole and when to throw a move here and there," Singletary said. "I think he is young, but he has shown he has the talent and the strength to do some things. He made some good, strong runs. That was very good to see."