In today’s version of the NFL, it is rare to see teams be patient with younger prospects. With general managers and coaches on short leashes, players are needed to produce early to enhance their job security. The San Francisco 49ers took a sort of old-school approach and drafted Tank Carradine in the 2013 NFL Draft knowing that he wouldn’t play in his rookie season. Carradine was subsequently placed on the reserve/non-football injury, ending his rookie year before it began. Though Carradine didn’t play as a rookie, the 49ers believe that he has star player written all over him.
While playing for the Florida State Seminoles, Carradine was selected to the All-ACC team, and you could also say that if he was healthy, he could have been a first-round selection in the draft. The 49ers took a chance on Carradine in the second round with the future in mind. This season, Carradine will get a chance to tap into that star potential.
With All-Pro Justin Smith nursing injuries thus far, Carradine has impressed coaches while out on the field. Carradine is a physical, athletic and instinctive player at his position. Prior to Smith’s injuries, Carradine was slated for a backup role, but with him impressing the coaching staff he can be thrust into the lineup immediately. The more Carradine improves, the more time Smith will have to get healthy. Smith has battled injuries for the past few seasons, and it would be a luxury to let him regain his full strength while Carradine takes some reps.
I don’t know how DC Vic Fangio will work things out when Smith is fully healthy, but getting Carradine and Smith on the field together will be a must. Carradine has a knack for making big plays, and he preys on quarterbacks every time he steps on the field.
It may not happen overnight, but at some point, Carradine will emerge as a star. San Francisco fans be patient; it’s only a matter of time until Carradine will be a household name.