It’s possible that Cornellius “Tank” Carradine may never be an impact player in the NFL.
Though he was a second-round draft pick by the 49ers in 2013, the former Florida State defensive end – who once was compared to Justin Tuck as an NFL prospect – has had a less-than-stellar start to his pro career. Because of an ACL injury suffered in his final college season he didn’t play as a rookie, appeared in just nine games in 2014 and played in 14 in 2015. In three seasons he’s had just four sacks.
But 49ers general manager Trent Baalke – who drafted Carradine – believes the 6-foot-4 27-year-old may finally be ready to make more of an impact in 2016 because he’ll be less tank-like.
In speaking with reporters this week, Baalke says Carradine has dropped from 296 to 273 pounds and is showing again the quickness that made him a nice pass rusher with the Seminoles.
“Yesterday he was beating most of the guys,” Baalke said, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. “In fact, I think he won several of the bag drills, the competitions that they’re doing. Lighter than he’s been since college. He’s got more speed, more quickness than he’s had since college.”
Baalke admitted that Carradine was probably miscast as a defensive end in the 49ers’ 3-4 defensive scheme. Baalke believes Carradine may be able to make his mark as a situational pass rusher, especially when San Francisco uses a four-man front with Carradine on the outside.
“I think Tank Carradine is going to have a very good season,” Baalke said. “I really do.”
The 49ers certainly could use more effective pass rushers. It’s an area of need in the upcoming draft in which the team has the No. 7 overall pick. With 12 selections, the 49ers will have the chance to add edge rushers to a unit that couldn’t put consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
In 2015, the 49ers ranked 29th in the NFL with just 28 sacks.
Carradine certainly is looking forward to the opportunity to contribute as a lighter, quicker edge rusher.
Said Carradine late last season, when he and the coaching staff determined he might be better suited to a role as a lighter player: “I’d like to get down on my weight, get comfortable and get back to doing something I love to do, playing sprint on the outside.”
So far, in Baalke’s vision, less may be more for Carradine.