On Tuesday, the San Francisco 49ers made a significant roster move which will strengthen the ability of the defense to rush the quarterback and add some depth to the defensive line. No, the move made was not a trade for Jared Allen, as some speculated could have been done upon reports that the Seattle Seahawks were making a late push to acquire the defensive end. The move the 49ers made was activating rookie defensive end/tackle Tank Carradine from the non-injured/reserved list into the active 53-man roster, while releasing linebacker Jermaine Cunningham in the process.
Carradine was drafted by the 49ers with the 40th overall selection, second round in the 2013 NFL Draft. Carradine had not been active yet, as he was still recovering from an ACL injury which he sustained during his senior season while playing for Florida State. While many considered it somewhat risky to take a flyer on a medical risk, it is clear that in Carradine, the 49ers saw someone who could provide depth and add to the defensive line with his pass rushing skills.
Since Aldon Smith left to handle and address his substance abuse issues, the 49ers have been able to find ways to put pressure on opposition quarterbacks, as players like rookie Corey Lemonier have stepped up and helped fill the void left by Smith’s absence. Therefore, Carradine can come in and give defensive coordinator Vic Fangio another pass rushing option, especially on third downs to go along with Lemonier and defensive linemen Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and Glenn Dorsey, whom can get after the quarterback.
In addition to giving the 49ers’ defense, another pass rushing threat, Carradine gives the 49ers much needed and additional depth along the defensive line, especially given that McDonald and Dorsey enter the bye week either carrying or having carried an injury in the past few weeks. With Carradine being activated, this will give the 49ers an opportunity to rotate and give their starters along the defensive line plays off as needed in order to help keep them fresh during games. Entering the second half of the season, this has the potential of paying off later on in the season.
While Carradine will not be a down in and down out contributor for the 49ers’ defense, his return is a boost nonetheless for a defense who, entering the second half of the season, can use and benefit from an additional player to provide depth. Carradine’s ability to give the 49ers a player who can be a situational rusher will go along way to continuing to help the 49ers cope with the absence of Smith.