When the San Francisco 49ers traded down with the Tennessee Titans to draft DE Tank Carradine in the second-round (No. 40) of the 2013 NFL Draft, I knew they had a steal. A player that was ranked No. 15 on my big board, Carradine’s stock plummeted due to a torn ACL. However, GM Trent Baalke saw the upside and as a result found great value in the second-round. An assessment I made back in May as I said:
“A calculated risk by 49ers GM Trent Baalke as he traded back with the Tennessee Titans in a 3-for-1 deal, the 49ers still landed their target and eventual replacement for DE Justin Smith. That’s right, to think that the 49ers do not believe Carradine will be Cowboy’s eventual replacement is absurd. You don’t draft a player in the second-round to simply provide depth, and with a talent like Carradine, sky’s the limit.”
Carradine who came into the NFL Combine weighing 263 pounds as a 4-3 defensive-end bulked up to a whopping 298 pounds today. A question asked by CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco, Carradine said he put on 35 pounds of pure muscle. How did he do it? Eating right and working out. “You have to eat right,” Carradine told me back in October. “Make sure you take your protein shakes, that’s important. Get in the weight room and just work hard.” We all know about the ‘freshman 15’ and now we know about the ‘sophomore 35’ but in a good way. That’s not to say there’s some drawbacks. When asked if his game has changed due to his weight-gain Carradine said, “Me just getting tired a little faster. But I felt just being in a little better shape.”
Niners DC Vic Fangio who doesn’t typically like to play rookies believes Tank falls under that category despite redshirting last season. “Last year was a total non-existent year for Tank. This was his rookie year, Fangio said in Tuesday’s press conference.” Earlier this season, Fangio believed Tank was not ready to play due to lack of playbook knowledge and Carradine agreed. “By me being able to go out there and do it, it’s a learning process for me. By next year everything will be locked in since I know everything and got everything down pat and be much more comfortable instead of, as I said learning everything,” Carradine said.
Maiocco then asked Carradine if he envisions himself as an every down player and Carradine said, “Yes, I definitely can. I thought I was going to play more in the nickel package but since I’ve been playing these last couple of games, I’ve been playing more base. Next year it’ll be even better because I can play nickel and base.” But don’t think for a second he doesn’t think about sacking the quarterback as he said, “That’s one of my specialties, something that I love to do, and I think I do a really good job at it.” And who can argue? Carradine led the team with two sacks last week against the Seattle Seahawks.
However, Carradine believes he is best suited to play inside on nickel packages. “I feel more comfortable inside now because I’m a bigger guy. I feel like more stout, I can rush from the inside and being able to take on two guys.” With two games left in the season, it will be a good opportunity to see how much Carradine has progressed as I believe him to be a Pro Bowl talent.