The San Francisco 49ers, as a whole, didn’t look great against the Carolina Panthers. There were some seriously disappointing performances from guys with high expectations, like defensive end Solomon Thomas and safety Jaquiski Tartt. But there were a few players who played some excellent ball in Week 1.
Defensive end Tank Carradine is one of those players. The 49ers failed, overall, to pressure Cam Newton, but they held the edge well and stopped the run. Carradine in particular also managed to hassle Newton a little bit — the biggest issue is that he didn’t get any help from his teammates.
Carradine was actually the highest-graded 49ers player by Pro Football Focus, for what that’s worth. He ranked ahead of right tackle Trent Brown and wide receiver Pierre Garcon, the other two players in the top three. I don’t care for PFF’s grades themselves, but they did get the top three right.
It will be interesting to see what happens on the defensive line as far as snap counts go in Week 2. Carradine was the starter at end, but played in just 31 snaps (46 percent of defensive snaps) against the Panthers. Thomas, the rookie, played in 43 snaps (64 percent), and was largely ineffective.
Then you factor into the possibility that Aaron Lynch is active for this game due to his superior pass-rushing ability, and I wonder if Thomas sees his snaps drop dramatically.
That wouldn’t be a bad thing. Part of me feels like Robert Saleh and Kyle Shanahan are trying to rush the youth movement and while I think there’s something to be said about throwing these guys in the deep end, 64 percent of defensive snaps for Thomas seems like a bit much. Carradine should probably get a few more, and Lynch should get a handful, leaving Thomas somewhere around 30 percent, ideally, early on in his career.
Even without considering Lynch, Carradine seems to finally be catching on with the 49ers. This position is the one for him, and he should be given plenty of opportunity to make the most of it. The 49ers have to find a way to use him against the Seahawks on Sunday.