The San Francisco 49ers took defensive lineman Tank Carradine in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft with the anticipation that he would miss his entire rookie campaign after suffering a torn ACL as a senior at Florida State.
Despite being at near full speed towards the latter part of the 2013 season, San Francisco decided to hold Carradine out of regular game action. There were a couple reasons for this. First off, its defensive line seemed to be doing the job and there was no need to push the talented lineman. Secondly, by holding Carradine out, the 49ers avoided having year one count against his rookie deal.
Now 100 percent and ready to go, Carradine is primed to make a major impact during his “rookie season.”
49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio addressed the opportunity Carradine has here in his first real season (via The Sacramento Bee).
He’s basically not much different than a rookie coming in right now,” Fangio said. “So this is his first shot.
With Justin Smith sidelined for minicamp, it appears that Carradine is making the most of his opportunity as a “starter” at camp this week. Head coach Jim Harbaugh had this to say (via San Jose Mercury News).
You see the flashes and the strength and the ability…(We) kind of have to pull him back because we’re not in live situations here in practice. But (we’re) very excited for where he’s at right now.
With a prime chance to show that he can make an immediate impact, especially due to his childhood idol and 14-year veteran Justin Smith being sidelined, Carradine is turning heads at camp.
Tank Carradine gives a lengthy interview; talks about playing left AND right end, and being "ahead of the game" http://t.co/tDp2UNKER0
— Dylan DeSimone (@DylanADeSimone) June 19, 2014
While Carradine likely won’t be a starter barring an injury, he could still very well make more of an impact than most defensive players who were drafted just over a month ago. This is where red-shirting him as a rookie comes into play. In reality, the 49ers have received a shot in the arm, one that was expected a year ago April.
This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to those who scouted Carradine coming out of Florida State. He would have likely been a top-10 pick if it wasn’t for the ACL tear he suffered during his final game at Florida State.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had Carradine as the No. 5 overall prospect in the draft, even after the talented defensive lineman tore his ACL.
Now at 290-plus pounds and 100 percent, Carradine is getting used to relying more on his power than his speed, something that he didn’t necessarily have to do at Florida State. If reports from camp are any indication, he’s doing more than what is being asked of him during this transitional period. If so, the 49ers could add yet another gem to the active roster this upcoming fall. One that will be ready to shine.