Here at Niners Nation, we're presenting a series called "90-in-90". We'll be looking at every player on the San Francisco 49ers offseason roster, one player per post, from now until the start of training camp.
Before the draft finally got here (because after the Super Bowl, it seems like an eternity waiting for the next big football event), a popular prediction started to form regarding what the 49ers could do with their first-round pick. Once considered one of the best defensive linemen in the draft, Cornellius "Tank" Carradine had torn his ACL in the middle of his final season at Florida State. This caused many to project his draft stock somewhere near the end of the first or early second round.
Sacramento Bee writer Matt Barrows even went so far as to select Carradine with the 49ers 31st pick in a mock draft held by the L.A. Times. It was the type of pick many could see the 49ers making after surprising many with picks such as Aldon Smith seventh overall in 2011, and A.J. Jenkins with the 30th pick in 2012. Neither of those picks were predicted by many, if anyone, after all.
Plus the 49ers and crafty Trent Baalke could afford to take a shot on a guy who might not play in 2013, what with the bevy of talent on the Super Bowl runner-up's existing roster already. Add to that the fact that Justin Smith wasn't getting any younger and the depth behind him was somewhat of a mystery, and it wasn't hard to see Carradine being the 31st overall pick.
But alas the 49ers were patient and ended up scooping Tank for a bargain price of the 40th overall pick, near the top of the second round. Not only that, but they also did so while trading down with Tennessee and gaining a seventh-round pick as well as a 2014 third rounder in the process. Now that's gangsta.
It's not hard to be excited about what Carradine might bring to the table once fully healed from his injury. Prior to the injury, he was an emerging player, very athletic, powerful, and violent on the field. Here are some highlights to whet your appetite:
What to expect in 2013
I think the first thing we can expect is for the 49ers to take their time with Tank's injury. They want a long-term answer at the 5-tech and nickel DT spot, so it's worth it to sacrifice a few months in order to ensure he's completely good to go. After Tank get's back on the field, I expect him to make an immediate impact in a rotational role. He might only play a handful of snaps at first, but he's the type of guy who should be disruptive even in limited action. By the end of the season hopefully he's learned enough to challenge for significant playing time in 2014 or fill in should there be an injury along the DL.
Odds of making the roster
I don't see any way he doesn't make the roster, though it's remotely possible he starts the season on the PUP, as he's been held out of action thus far and the aforementioned "taking their time" approach makes sense. Justin Smith is back for at least two more years and the depth behind him has been further bolstered with the addition of guys like Glenn Dorsey and rookie Quinton Dial.