When the Raiders play Game 1 in the regular season, it’s unlikely Tank Carradine will be in the starting lineup. Yet the former 49ers defensive lineman is a strong bet to be in the rotation at defensive end and tackle in 2018, eager for a fresh start with a new team – without having to leave the Bay Area.
In fact, when the Raiders began organized team activities (OTAs) recently, Carradine was lined up at defensive end as a starter, in place of the absent Khalil Mack, opposite Bruce Irvin at the other defensive end spot, with rookie Maurice Hurst and Justin Ellis at defensive tackle.
Carradine, who signed with Oakland as a free agent in March, played four seasons with the Niners and never really blossomed into the player the organization was hoping for when it selected him in the second round of the 2013 draft out of Florida State. After missing his rookie year because of injury, Carradine played 44 games with just eight starts – seven of them coming in 2017 – beginning in 2014. He had three sacks in 2014 but only two since. The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder did prove to be a strong edge defender against the run, however, and new Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther likes what he sees.
“Tank’s been a surprise for us,” he told reporters this week. “I think he’s a great fit for our system. He’s playing base end on first and second down, he’s moving inside on the pass rush. He’s real smart and knows what to do. He’s understanding the defense and he’s a strong son of a gun, so he’s really going to help us out a lot.”
Carradine had trouble fitting into the 3-4 scheme the 49ers used on defense his first three seasons, but took a big step forward last season when the scheme shifted to one that used a 4-3 setup as its base defense. As an edge defender in a 4-3, he suddenly became a solid contributor. He believes he can be one with the Raiders, too.
“At first they didn’t think I could play the run like that,” Carradine told a reporter last season. “But I think once I got into a scheme that fits me, I showed that I’m capable of stopping the run in this defense.”