When the 49ers acquired short-yardage RB Brandon Jacobs and special teams standout Rock Cartwright in the offseason, Anthony Dixon's value to the team significantly declined.

It could have been easy for Dixon to push for a trade or his release, but the third-year pro isn't wired like that.

Instead, he approached coach Jim Harbaugh with the idea for an expanded role in which he could potentially play both RB and FB.

"I told him right now I could be a dual threat to help the team," Dixon said. "I'm just trying to separate myself and I feel like if I can do both, that'll put me in a different category. Coaches are saying it's a great move and I think it's a great move."

Run blocking isn't a new concept for Dixon, who played in an option-based offense at Mississippi State.

"I had to block for my other running back there," he said. "I just love playing football, period."

Dixon looked natural at fullback in the team's first practice in pads Sunday, but said he isn't resigned to the fact that his ball-carrying days are over.

"I'm still a workhorse and that's final, but whatever they ask me to do that's what I'm going to do," he said. "I am a team player."

In Dixon's rookie year, he carried 70 times for 237 yards and a pair of TDs, but he saw his carries drop to 29 last season after the team drafted Kendall Hunter in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.

With Frank Gore, second-round pick LaMichael James, Hunter and Jacobs all ahead of him on the depth chart, it's likely Dixon could find a better opportunity for carries elsewhere.

He didn't want to speculate.

"If it comes to something else, then I'll open my eyes to that. Right now, I'm happy."

Follow 49ers reporter Kyle Bonagura on Twitter: @CBSSportsNFLSF and @KyleBonagura