I have been high on San Francisco 49ers second-year player DE Tank Carradine dating back to his days at Florida State. A true pass-rush specialist down in the trenches with the strength to hold the point of attack, Carradine was an absolute steal for the team in 2013. An article I wrote 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. So with Carradine being placed on IR his rookie season due to a torn ACL suffered at Florida State, what can the Forever Faithful expect in 2014? Although he likely won’t start, you can be sure he will be be included in DC Vic Fangio’s sub packages on passing downs.
Well, it now seems that Carradine may get his chance, as eight-year veteran DE Ray McDonald was arrested earlier this morning on suspicion of domestic abuse on a pregnant woman. If convicted, McDonald could miss at least six games as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell set new rules in place to put a stop to domestic violence. The first offense carries a six-game suspension without pay while more severe penalties are in place if the victim is a pregnant woman. Of course, the legal process has to take it’s course but this can’t be good for McDonald in any way shape or form. So with McDonald’s possible suspension looming, what can the Forever Faithful expect from his backups? Great things!
[Related: Why 49ers’ DE Tank Carradine will continue to shine under 3-4 scheme]
Before the McDonald news even came out, I was already set on Carradine being the next best defensive-end on the team. As I said in an earlier article, “With Carradine continuing to build a case as a vital piece to the 49ers defense, do not be surprised if he takes away snaps from DE Ray McDonald, as I believe him to be more stronger, athletic, and overall better athlete in what the 49ers want in a 3-4 five-technique.”
And I still believe that to be true today. If Carradine gets the start in Week 1, look for him to use his speed-to-power and just manhandle incumbent Dallas Cowboys T Doug Free on the left side. Free has a difficult time staying with speed rushers while often getting pushed backwards. In addition, Free is slower than most at getting out of his stance, leaving him exposed in the passing game. If Carradine can continue to explode off the snap while using his violent hands to bull-rush the pocket, that should help him get pressure on the quarterback while commanding double teams as the five-technique.
Free is nowhere near an elite tackle and has his woes which includes numerous false-start/holding penalties. A weak link along the offensive line, look for Carradine to take advantage of his opportunities, as he should finish with a stat line around four tackles and 1.0 sack. And if Carradine struggles look for second-year NT Quinton Dial to pick up the slack as his massive size will help impose his will while stuffing the run.
With the 49ers prepared to play without McDonald, they should have no problems in their next man up mentality as Carradine is more than capable of picking up the slack.