San Francisco 49ers: 10 Young Linchpin Players to Watch over Rest of 2015 Season

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November 27, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) passes the football against San Francisco 49ers defensive end Tank Carradine (95) during the fourth quarter at Levi’s Stadium. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 19-3. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive End Tank Carradine

Third-year pro Tank Carradine has been quite an enigma for the 49ers since being selected in Round 2 of the 2013 draft and missing all his rookie season recovering from a collegiate knee injury.

Carradine has appeared in just 19 games since then and has zero starts. He has just 28 tackles and four sacks to his credit over that stretch.

An edge-rusher in a 4-3 scheme at Florida State, Carradine hasn’t been much of a factor in either defensive coordinator Vic Fangio or current DC Eric Mangini’s defense in San Francisco. So the 49ers plans for Carradine now appear to turn Carradine back into more of a pass-rushing specialist.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee broke it down:

"The 49ers want Carradine below the 275-pound weight at which he entered the league in 2013. (He was about 280 on Sunday). The former second-round pick bulked up to 300 pounds as the 49ers turned him into a defensive lineman in their 3-4 system. The plan now is to make him a pass-rush specialist off the edge, which is similar to how he was used at Florida State. Carradine played no snaps against the Falcons and was not even in uniform against the Seahawks. However, the plan is to unveil the reshaped defender at some point before the season draws to a close."

At 26 years old, Carradine is in danger of becoming a bust if he fails to master this transition. The 49ers will likely want to see whether or not he’ll fit into their future plans beyond 2015, and the final weeks should reveal if this happens.