That perception has begun to waiver.
In an interview on KNBR-AM 680's Murph and Mac Show on Tuesday, offensive coordinator Greg Roman was complimentary of Dixon and made a bold prediction.
"I think we can look to [Dixon] to have his most productive season as a Niner because he's really stepped up his preparation," Roman said.
Roman's comments clearly indicate he expects Dixon to be with the team, but whether it plays out like that remains to be seen.
The man who ultimately will make the decision, GM Trent Baalke, made similar comments in an interview with 95.7-FM The Game on Monday.
“Anthony, he's a 49er. He's a guy that loves to be here," Baalke said. "Very pleased with what he's doing on the offensive side, and certainly pleased with what he brings to the table on special teams."
If he does stick for his third year in San Francisco, it would likely be due to his versatility. In addition to his role as a RB, Dixon added fullback to his job description this training camp and is involved on every special-teams unit. Coach Jim Harbaugh described him as a "core guy on special teams."
If Dixon is cut Friday, he thinks he's put enough on tape this preseason to warrant serious consideration from other teams. He's carried the ball 30 times for 116 yards, including a 26-yard TD against the Broncos on Sunday.
"We always talk about what you put on film is your signature, and I sign my name by whatever I put on film," Dixon said. "I've grown a whole lot. You learn little stuff every year and this year has been no different."
With Dixon seemingly improving his roster chances, Cartwright could be on the chopping block. Listed as a RB, Cartwright signed with the team this offseason after two years with the Raiders primarily for the opportunity on special teams, but he hasn't gotten to show much on special teams during the preseason.
"We've had a lot of touchbacks," he said. "I've done my part. Who knows what's going to happen? All I can control is how hard I play, and I have to go out and play at a high level on Thursday and see what happens on Friday."