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Tank Carradine has finally found the right position with the 49ers

After a disappointing few seasons, Carradine is finally coming into his own.

Tank Carradine could be accurately described as a bust pick for the San Francisco 49ers, at least for now. Drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Carradine didn’t look great as a defensive lineman and his transition to outside linebacker a year ago yielded essentially no results.

But at 28 and with a new defense under Robert Saleh, Carradine seems to have found his rhythm. His athleticism is among the best on the roster and he’s always had an effective arsenal of pass-rushing moves. He simply rarely got to use them.

Now he’s coming off some intense praise from Saleh, and looks like he’s playing the correct position for the first time in his NFL career.

The only problem is he’s basically competing for the same spot on the defensive line as Solomon Thomas, this year’s third overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. Thomas will certainly be a starter in the near future, but Carradine is working on getting into the lineup.

“He might get some opportunities. I think he’s damn near an elite six-technique,” Saleh said on Friday. “To be able to create pocket push from an edge, I think that’s where his home is. There’s no shame in that, I think he’s pretty freaking good at it. That’s where Tank’s strength is. Will he get some inside rush? Yes. He had some success with it with Denver. But, as a six, dominating tight ends and being able to transition from run thought to pass on first and second down, I don’t know if you’ll find much better than that in the league.”

It will be very interesting to see how much Carradine plays in the third preseason game on Sunday. How much time Carradine spends with the starters or playing in the first half in general should give us a good idea of where he stands going forward. Hopefully he makes some big plays and lives up to his high draft billing.