An emergency fill-in at first, Dorsey has made significant strides each week that tell him and his 49ers coaches he is becoming comfortable with the defensive scheme and his technique in San Francisco’s system.
For a sixth-year veteran who arrived uncertain of landing a starting job, Dorsey worked quietly until called upon to assume a larger role. He took over at nose tackle after Ian Williams’ season ended with a broken left ankle in Week 2 at Seattle.
“It was unknown to me,” Dorsey said Thursday. “I came in with a clear mind just to try to help as much as I can in any role that I was in. I was forced to step up and play a lot and I try to do my best at it.”
Since the Kansas City Chiefs selected him No. 5 overall in the 2008 draft out of LSU, Dorsey has dealt with the critics who questioned whether he would ever pan out as an NFL regular. He has been called a bust.
He just smiles and acknowledges he doesn’t mind the underdog status. Dorsey hardly generates the fanfare of the big playmakers alongside him like Ahmad Brooks, Aldon Smith or Justin Smith, and that’s just fine by him.
“I really do, I prefer it that way,” Dorsey said. “We have a lot of players on the front line that play well.”
When Dorsey took over in that 29-3 loss at Seattle on Sept. 15, he had one of four sacks against Russell Wilson, Dorsey’s first with the 49ers.
San Francisco is counting on him to put the pressure on again Sunday when the playoff-bound Seahawks (11-1) come to Candlestick Park trying to clinch the NFC West. At 8-4, San Francisco is playing for its own playoff positioning.
Often doing his own thing with headphones on as he makes his way around the locker room and team facility, Dorsey enjoys all of the different personalities on this defense.
It didn’t take long for him to earn the respect of his new teammates.
“When he does talk, it’s well thought out. It’s very insightful,” coach Jim Harbaugh said.