Could Tank Carradine be inactive the rest of the reason?

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The 49ers have kept Tank Carradine inactive since he came off the NFI list. Could he stay inactive the remainder of the year? It's entirely possible.

Sunday afternoon, the San Francisco 49ers deactivated Quinton Dial, and kept Tank inactive yet again in their win over the St. Louis Rams. The 49ers welcomed Ray McDonald back to the defense, and relied on a rotation of Tony Jerod-Eddie and Demarcus Dobbs behind McDonald, Justin Smith and Glenn Dorsey.

Earlier this season, the defensive line depth was a significant weakness for the team. However, over the last few weeks, Tony Jerod-Eddie has stepped up in place of McDonald. Additionally, the team has shown faith in Jerod-Eddie and Dobbs to give McDonald and Smith rest. Against the Rams, the defensive line snap count was as follows:

Justin Smith - 40
Ray McDonald - 37
Tony Jerod-Eddie - 32
Demarcus Dobbs - 26

The 49ers have developed an impressive rotation along the defensive line beyond Ray McDonald and Justin Smith. That play could be enough to keep Tank Carradine inactive the rest of the season. Matt Maiocco and Matt Barrows both got a question about Tank and whether we will see him this season:

It'd be nice to be able to roll Tank into the rotation, but the play of Tony Jerod-Eddie has changed the equation for 2013. The team seems content to let TJE handle the bulk of the backup duty, with Dobbs providing assistance as well.

Heading into 2014, Jerod-Eddie is signed, while Dobbs is a restricted free agent. It will be interesting to see what kind of tender the team places on Dobbs. He was an unrestricted free agent, so an original round tender would not cost another team all that much. RFAs generally stay with their own team, but this is one time when it is possible a team likes what they see, and pays more than the 49ers are willing to match.

For now, Tank remains insurance in 2013. The team has dealt with numerous injuries, so it is entirely possible we'll see Tank at some point this season. For now though, he continues with his process. There are reports the 49ers basically re-started his rehab following the draft, so it would not be a surprise for them to be content more or less red-shirting him alongside Marcus Lattimore.

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