SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — For Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a year away from football after being part of a team for nearly his entire life was just what he needed at this point in his career.
After getting cut by Dallas last summer and spending the 2020 season at home, the 28-year-old Clinton-Dix is back on a team after signing last week with the San Francisco 49ers to bolster their safety group.
“I’m nowhere near done and I’m here to prove that now,” Clinton-Dix said Tuesday. “These guys have been working for 15 days. This is my second day. If I’m out here lollygagging or not giving full effort it’s like I’m taking food out of people’s mouths. I don’t want to do that. I’m here to show my teammates that I want to be a part of this organization and do what I can to earn a spot.”
Clinton-Dix has done a lot so far in his career. He was a first-round pick by Green Bay in 2014 and became one of the better safeties in the league.
He made the Pro Bowl in 2016 when he had five interceptions. He didn’t miss a single game his first six seasons, playing for the Packers, Washington and Chicago, recording 16 interceptions and 33 passes defensed in 90 games.
Clinton-Dix was reunited with former Packers coach Mike McCarthy last season in Dallas but was unable to make the Cowboys roster and opted to sit out the season rather than join another team’s practice squad.
He used his first extended time away from football to spend time with his family, recover physically, workout and get into a better mental state of mind by “looking at the man in the mirror.”
“Sometimes you get into this game and you lose yourself,” he said. “You start thinking and start questioning yourself and questioning your ability of who you are as an individual. I want to make sure I never lost that. I had my highs and lows in this ballgame. But I know what I put on tape and I want to make sure I remain consistent.”
He also kept in close contact with the Cowboys’ defensive backs by participating on a text chain analyzing their play as if he were still on the team. Clinton-Dix watched games every Sunday and realized he still had more to give to the game.
It took a while for the right chance to come his way but he finally signed with the 49ers after Tony Jefferson went on injured reserve with groin and hamstring injuries.
“When you love this game so much, it’s hard to get away from,” Clinton-Dix said. “Your family is asking you when are you going to get back out there. Your teammates from college, and former NFL teammates are playing and having fun. You definitely miss it.”
Clinton-Dix has jumped right into the mix with the Niners and had an interception against rookie Trey Lance in practice Monday.
With starter Jaquiski Tartt still on the physically unable to perform list with a toe injury, there could be an opportunity for Clinton-Dix to carve out a role on the defense.
“He finds the ball or the ball finds him all the time,” defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans said. “It seems to have been that way throughout his entire career. He’s just always around the ball. He’s found it a couple of days here in practice. With him still new and learning the scheme, it’s good to see him out there making plays.”
NOTES: The 49ers waived backup QB Josh Rosen and claimed CB Davontae Harris off waivers from Baltimore. … LB Fred Warner intercepted QB Jimmy Garoppolo for the second straight day during team drills. … LT Trent Williams (knee swelling) and CB Emmanuel Moseley (hamstring) didn’t practice. … TE Joshua Perkins and CB Ken Webster were cut and WR Austin Watkins Jr. was waived with an injury designation.
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