Santa Clara, Calif. • From the moment Glenn Dorsey stepped off the plane last spring and met spirited 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, he understood San Francisco’s winning vibe that he had seen from afar with Kansas City in the AFC.
Dorsey wanted to be a part of it, and little did the Niners know how crucial a stabilizing force he would be or how important the decision was to bring him in for depth on the defensive line.
"Even when I got off the plane and talked to Coach Tomsula, this is the time that we prepared for, the time that he told me when I got here: ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to be doing. We’re going to work toward it and hopefully keep it going,’" Dorsey recalled.
Ever since nose tackle Ian Williams went down with a season-ending ankle injury during a Week 2 loss at Seattle, Dorsey has delivered with a steady presence in the middle for coordinator Vic Fangio’s imposing, smothering unit.
This group is determined to return to Seattle this weekend for the NFC championship game and produce a different result after an embarrassing 29-3 defeat on Sept. 15 at noisy CenturyLink Field.
While Dorsey wasn’t around for last season’s Super Bowl heartbreak, he understands there is unfinished business associated with the 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens that cost San Francisco the franchise’s sixth championship.
This postseason run is "very close" to what Dorsey envisioned when he joined the 49ers last March on a two-year contract that could pay him up to $7 million with incentives.
Williams earned the starting nose tackle job out of training camp with Dorsey a versatile backup, then Williams went down with a season-ending ankle injury on a cut block by Seattle right guard J.R. Sweezy.
Dorsey watched the 49ers during last year’s postseason, noticing "a team that fights, a physical team on both sides of the ball, special teams."
"Everybody works well together," he said. "We have a mindset that we’re going to work hard no matter what. The weather, whatever it might be, whoever the opponent might be, guys just have it in their mind just to come out and grind it out no matter what."
His teammates learned in a hurry about Dorsey’s dedication, watching him emerge in a defense defined by its hard hits and work ethic behind the scenes. That was among the first things Tomsula talked about with Dorsey during his visit last year.
"He’s the kind of guy everybody should have on their team," fellow lineman Ray McDonald said. "I saw the way he worked this offseason. He works real hard at his craft and it’s showing up on the field."
The 28-year-old Dorsey doesn’t seem to mind a degree of anonymity and won’t create the kind of fanfare associated with line mates McDonald or Justin Smith.
Regardless, Fangio said they all feed off each other.
"Those guys just follow along. And if they don’t, they’re going to get chastised," Fangio said. "Ray is the next leader and he’s right there with Justin and he’s a workout warrior, too. So, I think that’s a big thing that played a big part in Glenn Dorsey coming along and having his best year. He threw himself right in there with those guys from Day 1, almost the day after he signed and was here all offseason. And it’s paying dividends for him now."
That first impression with Tomsula 10 months ago, not to mention last season’s Super Bowl berth, went a long way in Dorsey’s decision.
"Of course," he said. "Everybody watches the 49ers play, even getting off the plane and getting here and meeting everybody, you kind of can sense it, that everybody in here is going to fight till the end. During a season, nobody prepares to go home. It’s just a mindset that you’re going to have a long season and play in the postseason. It’s fun, and I’m enjoying it."
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