April 24, 2010 11:26:00 PM
David Miller -
STARKVILLE -- Anthony Dixon waited longer than he wanted to on the final day of the NFL draft, but the crossed fingers, prayers and nervous energy turned to joy in the sixth round.
A life-long San Francisco 49ers fan, Dixon grew up hoping to grace the same field as his favorite player, Jerry Rice, once did.
Saturday, San Francisco drafted the Mississippi State record-setter with the 173rd overall pick, bolstering a backfield that already has Pro Bowler Frank Gore and former Alabama running back Glen Coffee.
Mississippi State linebacker Jamar Chaney was also drafted Sunday, selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the seventh round.
Dixon spoke with San Fransciso Bay area reporters via teleconference after he was drafted and expressed his elation about being picked after sweating out the first two days of the draft.
"This is my favorite team," Dixon said. "You ask anybody that''ll talk to you and they''ll tell you that. I''m so happy right now I don''t know what to do.
"I knew from visiting with all the teams, what they thought of me and I knew somebody would take a chance on me. I''m just trying to be patient, trying to be cool, like I was telling my family and everybody else, and it just came true."
Dixon, who left MSU as the all-time leader in career rushing yards (3,994), rushing touchdowns (42) and single-season rushing yards (1,391), heads to California, where his brother, Rashun, is a minor league baseball player in the Oakland Athletics'' system.
Pleased to be closer to his brother with his near-future move to San Francisco, Dixon shared a piece of personal history that hardly anyone who follows MSU football was aware of.
One of four brothers, Dixon told San Francisco beat reporters of being homeless on two different occasions while growing up.
"I''m from Jackson, Mississippi. I grew up with my four brothers and my mom," Dixon said. "We struggled a lot, like I just told you, we went homeless twice and it''s been an uphill fight ever since then. Ever since I was about 10 or 11, I''ve been fighting and trying to provide for my family and my brothers, and I guess it''s just finally coming true.
"I''m just happy right now. It''s been tough. I''ve been in Jackson all my life, Mississippi all my life, so California is a nice switch up. I can''t wait."
The 49ers experienced an offensive resurgence last season with the addition of former Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree and a more efficient Alex Smith at quarterback. Dixon hopes to add another dimension, similar to what he gave Mississippi State in his breakout season in 2009, once he touches down in California.
"I embrace the contact. I enjoy contact. I love to practice," Dixon said. "I just love the game of football. It''s all I want to do - just play football. That''s my game. I feel like I can catch. I feel like I can be an every down back for them. I''m coming in now trying to assume my role."
Chaney taken in final round
Chaney''s wait to be selected in the draft came down to the final round as the Philadelphia Eagles traded up to select the former Mississippi State linebacker.
Chaney was a four-year starter at Mississippi State and many talent evaluators pegged him as a fourth-round pick after running a 4.54 40-yard dash -- the fastest linebacker time at the combine -- and registering a 39-inch vertical jump. Solid workouts, combined with earning Defensive MVP of the Senior Bowl, had Chaney in line to be a mid-round pick.
Instead, he watched other linebackers go ahead of him until the Eagles traded their sixth round pick in 2011 for the Detroit Lions'' pick in this year''s seventh round to select him.
The Eagles'' draft class is 13 players deep and Chaney was one of three linebackers selected along with Brandon Graham and Keenan Clayton. Chaney, however, is the only middle linebacker of the group and will enter minicamp behind Stewart Bradley and Omar Gaither.
Chaney''s pick by the Eagles shouldn''t come as a surprise as coach Philadelphia coach Andy Reid''s team was one of three teams to fly the speedy linebacker out for an interview.
And though the Eagles took Chaney in the final round, trading a pick from next year''s draft to get him showed the Eagles'' interest in acquiring him.
n NOTES: Mississippi State wide receiver Brandon McRae wawsn''t drafted, but he said via his twitter account that he was headed to the St. Louis Rams for a rookie free agent deal...The Southeastern Conference had an all-time high 49 players selected in the draft...Mississippi State''s two draft picks marked the first time since 2005 that the Bulldogs had more than one player selected.