Tank Carradine has been inactive for two of the 49ers' three games this season and played exactly zero defensive snap in the third. Why, with the 49ers struggling with an anemic pass rush rush, is the 40th overall pick in last year's draft being under-utilized, especially when he showed such promise this summer?
Carradine played more snaps than any 49ers defensive lineman in the preseason and led that unit with 14 tackles and a sack.
According to Carradine, his inability to get on the field has nothing to do with ability but rather his mastery of the playbook, which he admits is not at the level it needs to be.
“I'm close, you know?” he said on Wednesday. “There are some things that I get, a lot of stuff I get. Then there's some stuff I don't get. And when you compare that to somebody else who's been in the system longer, of course they're going to know more than you.”
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While Carradine and fellow 2013 draft pick Quinton Dial (nine defensive snaps) mostly have been on the sideline, the backup snaps at defensive end primarily have gone to Tony Jerod-Eddie and Demarcus Dobbs. The two have combined for 88 defensive plays through three games. Dobbs has three tackles, Jerod-Eddie has two. Neither has a sack or even a quarterback pressure over that span.
Dobbs and Jerod-Eddie also contribute on special teams. Dial also plays on special teams but Carradine does not have as much versatility.
Carradine's comments mirror those of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who on Aug. 3 said that the second-year player, who didn't play any snaps as a rookie while coming back from ACL surgery, was not sound on his assignments.
“He was never healthy last year and now he’s getting a chance to learn and show what he can do mentally,” Fangio said nearly two months ago. “He’s got a ways to go there yet. Like I’ve said, sitting in those meetings doesn’t mean you’ve learned it, and he’s living proof of that. So he’s got to do better from an assignment standpoint for us to feel comfortable to play him. Right now he’s missing too many things mentally.”
Said Carradine: “If you've got a player who's getting it right in the playbook, it's hard for coaches to take you off the field in practice. That's the issue that I'm going through right now.”