One of the biggest questions through the San Francisco 49ers first three games has been what to make of Tank Carradine's inactive status. The 49ers defensive tackle was inactive Week 1 and 3. He was active Week 2, but only got special teams snaps. The 49ers pass rush has been quite limited through the first three weeks, so it would seem to make sense to work him into some kind of role.
Jim Harbaugh met with the media Wednesday afternoon, and was asked about Tank's status. It would appear "getting going" might be worth adding to the "Harbaugh-isms":
You guys seemed to have struggled a little bit getting pressure on the quarterback and you guys drafted DT Tank Carradine a year ago to help in that regard. Why hasn't he been active for two of the three games and then even the one game he was active, he didn't have much of a role? Why is that?
"He's coming. He's in that role of getting going. Excited about his development and his future."
It hasn't been a disappointment that he hasn't been able to make a contribution up to this point?
Tank spoke with the Sacramento Bee, and he told them his inability to get on the field is due to his lack of full mastery of the playbook:
"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."
Tank's knee injury limited him in 2013, which meant he could learn the playbook, but he did not get much in the way of practice reps to implement what he was learning. This past offseason, he was back on the practice field, and got significant snaps in the preseason. However, it clearly was not enough to get him into regular season action.
Quinton Dial has worked his way in, getting a handful of snaps each of the last two weeks. He and Tank both remain behind Tony Jerod-Eddie, with Demarcus Dobbs fitting somewhere in there as well. TJE was the first off the bench when Ray McDonald dislocated his finger this past Sunday, and continues to remain that primary utility guy on the line.
People have asked each week why the 49ers don't use Tank Carradine, and when he will actually start to get some action. This would seem to answer the former question, but it does not tell us much about the latter question. When the 49ers go into their nickel defense, there is room for a talented edge rusher like Tank. But the 49ers do not seem to think he is fully prepared for such a role. It's disappointing on a number of levels, but we're just left to wait and wonder when Tank will earn his first opportunity.