GREEN BAY – The coffee was flowing for Quinton Dial during his first official day as a member of the Packers.
It had been a topsy-turvy week for the 6-foot-5, 318-pound defensive tackle prior to stepping on the practice field for the first time on Thursday.
It started Saturday when Dial was informed of his release after four seasons with the 49ers, who are transitioning from a 3-4 to 4-3 defense. Shortly thereafter, the Packers contacted his agent to express interest in a free-agent visit.
Dial arrived in Green Bay Monday, visited and signed with the Packers Tuesday, flew back to San Francisco Wednesday to gather his belongings and reported back on Thursday.
So how’s he doing after such a whirlwind five days?
“I ain’t too bad,” Dial said. “I had a couple cups of coffee.”
Dial is the third free agent the Packers have acquired since last Saturday’s league-wide roster reduction, with former 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks also signing with Green Bay Sunday.
A fifth-round pick in 2013, Dial recorded 126 tackles and 4½ sacks in 46 games with 32 starts for the 49ers. Despite the defensive switch to a 4-3, he felt good about his chances at making San Francisco’s roster going into the weekend.
Dial was surprised to find out about his release, but understood the reasons behind it. Brooks reached out Saturday night to talk to him to find out which teams were calling.
It just so happened the two former 49ers had common interest from Green Bay.
“I always loved playing with Ahmad,” Dial said. “He’s a hell of an athlete, first of all. He can do a lot of great things. He can cover, he can rush, he’s physical at the point of attack. He adds a lot of great elements to this defense and will give an offense problems.”
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers and his coaching staff now have the unique challenge of trying to get three defensive acquisitions – Dial, Brooks and linebacker Chris Odom – up to speed with Seattle in the regular-season opener only days away.
It’s not exactly foreign territory for Capers, though. As the head coach of the expansion Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans, Capers grew accustomed to players coming in late and having to get them ready to contribute.
There are also parallels between the 3-4 defense Brooks and Dial thrived in under former San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who served in the same capacity on Capers’ staffs in Carolina and Houston.
It’s the Packers hope that past experience in Fangio’s 3-4 could help both Brooks and Dial become difference-makers in the defense sooner rather than later.
“I think there’s probably a lot of carryover, some similar terminology,” Capers said. “The positions they’ve played, it’s pretty easy to look at them on tape and project how they’d fit into things we’d ask them to do.”
Dial views a 3-4 as his “bread and butter” after also playing in a similar scheme at the University of Alabama, where he was introduced to current Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
While Clinton-Dix didn’t find out about Dial’s release from San Francisco until news broke about his impending visit to Green Bay, the All-Pro safety quickly expressed support for his former Crimson Tide teammate on social media.
Clinton-Dix did his best to recruit Dial to Green Bay, talking up the atmosphere and coaching staff, but ultimately he let the fifth-year veteran make the decision on his own.
With Dial now signed, Clinton-Dix believes his college teammate’s ability to play anywhere on the defensive front will be valuable for the Packers. In San Francisco, Dial played anywhere from a five-technique defensive end in base to a nose tackle playing directly across from the center.
His body type closely mirrors that of Packers’ second-year defensive end Dean Lowry (6-6, 296), giving Green Bay’s run defense another long-levered and versatile lineman.
“I didn’t see that coming at all. That was a shock,” said Clinton-Dix of Dial’s release. “When they told me they were bringing him in here, I’m like, ‘Damn, he got cut?’ That was definitely eye-opening. We got a steal. Now that I look at him standing next to Dean (Lowry), he and Dean kind of look alike. Man, I’m telling you, y’all are going to love him.”
Neither Dial nor Books knows what will be expected of them in Sunday’s opener against the Seahawks, though both have ample experience playing against them in the NFC West.
From Dial’s perspective, he’s grateful for the opportunity to continue playing football and once again have a chance to contend for a Super Bowl like his rookie year in 2013.
While he might have racked up some serious air miles over the last week, Dial is quickly settling into Green Bay.
“It was crazy,” Dial said. “They said we want to bring me out for a visit in a couple days, so I came out on a visit and fell in love with the place. I felt like it was the best fit for me.”