Is Tank Carradine the Heir Apparent to Justin Smith in San Francisco?

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Is Tank Carradine the Heir Apparent to Justin Smith in San Francisco?
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

In 2012, the San Francisco 49ers had six starting defensive players receive Pro Bowl honors, which was a league-high.

It is one of the most skilled units in the NFL, stacked from top to bottom, yet that is where the team’s draft focus was. In late April, the 49ers brought in high-caliber defenders early and often.

In fact, with their first two picks in 2013, the Niners acquired a pair of first-round talents in Eric Reid (LSU) and Tank Carradine (Florida State).

Selected at No. 18 overall, Reid is the obvious favorite to supersede departed All-Pro Dashon Goldson at free safety. Between the void on the back end and San Francisco’s aggressive Day 1 trade, it shows Reid is their man.

However, Carradine comes in as a former DE/LB where there are four entrenched starters manning the edges—two of which are All-Pros. Also coming off a late-season ACL injury, the rookie defensive lineman might not be rushed into action.

While Carradine has a higher ceiling than Reid, it is the ex-Seminole that San Francisco is going to make a project player. After the draft, GM Trent Baalke announced that the second-rounder would make the transition to 3-4 end (h/t Santa Rosa Press Democrat):

Well, he’s going to play down. He’s not an outside linebacker. In our system, it’s one of the things we really liked is the versatility. He’s a little bit bigger than [DT] Ray [McDonald] was when Ray came out.

Just a guy that we think can play the four technique, the five technique, can play in our sub package. Can kick down and play a three and also stay outside in the sub package. So, just a lot of position versatility with him.

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