- Tramaine Brock CB
- Dillon Farrell G/C
- Josh Johnson QB
- Quinton Patton WR
- Marcus Martin G/C
- Vance McDonald TE
- Tank Carradine DE
Let’s focus on Carradine, because I know there are a lot of questions. I have some of my own. The 49ers’ pass rush has been nonexistent — probably the worst three-game stretch of Vic Fangio’s tenure. They tried blitzing more often in Arizona, and it didn’t work. Justin Smith is the only player consistently getting pressure on the quarterback, and teams are starting to triple-team him as a result.
Where is Tank, the guy who was supposed to eventually replace Smith? At least a few possibilities exist.
1. He doesn’t understand the defensive system and/or his assignments.
If he doesn’t “get” the defense yet, that’s a problem. He spent a redshirt year in Santa Clara and sat through all the meetings, so he should be well-versed on where to be and when, even if he’s asked to play a completely different role than what he did at Florida St. If he’s unable to make the transition from 4-3 DE to a 3-4 “DE” in the 49ers’ system, then it was a mistake to draft him.
There’s a chance that with time to work on his technique and added practice experience, it’ll all click at some point and Fangio will trust Carradine. However, it’s impossible to know if this is the case since we haven’t seen Carradine do much of anything on a field since August.
2. The 49ers don’t think he’ll make enough of an impact to offset his lack of versatility (translation: he isn’t that good)
Carradine doesn’t play special teams, but that isn’t a reason to keep out a dynamic defensive or offensive player. But if he can’t stop the run, he’s a major liability even if he can occasionally get in the quarterback’s face. Corey Lemonier isn’t getting to the quarterback all that often, but teams don’t lose because one guy can’t get pressure on a particular play. On the other hand, if Carradine’s presence tells other teams, “We’re going to run at this guy again and again, and we’ll get easy first downs doing it,” suddenly the defense is on the field for long drives and getting chewed up every which way.
One argument to that: just have him play Lemonier’s position, tell him pin his ears back (I’m still not sure how that’s possible unless you have dreadlocks, which neither Lemonier or Carradine possess) and get after that quarterback. Except Carradine looks considerably heavier than his listed weight of 273. He’s closer to the size of Justin Smith and Ray McDonald than Lemonier, Ahmad Brooks or Aaron Lynch.
3. Carradine’s knee hasn’t recovered.
Carradine saw more snaps than any other 49ers defensive player (180) during the preseason. According to Pro Football Focus he recorded a sack, three hits and six hurries in that time. One would assume that he’s healthy enough to play — he’s not listed on the practice injury reports. This is more of an excuse for his level of play not convincing the 49ers to activate him each week.
Yet Carradine did have to have a second surgery on his knee to remove “a mass of scar tissue” that prevented him from even straightening his leg. In effect that means the first procedure wasn’t entirely successful.
4. The coaches don’t understand what they have.
In this scenario, Fangio, Jim Tomsula, Jim Harbaugh, Jim Leavitt and all the other defensive minds either don’t like Carradine or don’t see the magical pass rushing abilities locked within. After watching this team get to three straight NFC Championships with defenses that were usually well above average, I’m not willing to put much credence in this option. I’m sure there are people out there who’d disagree, though.
As for the others, Vance McDonald is either hurt or not the point where he’d provide much more than Derek Carrier. Brock is definitely still hurting — if the 49ers lose today, many will probably end up pointing to his continued absence as a reason why. Patton can’t return kicks/punts and the 49ers think Brandon Lloyd is better. It’s going to take an injury to one of the other receivers for him to get activated this season.
Eagles inactives include their starting center and inside linebacker.
- Matt Barkley QB
- Josh Huff WR
- Jaylen Watkins DB
- Jason Kelce C
- Kevin Graf RT
- Mychal Kendricks LB
- Taylor Hart DE
Here’s how the stadium looks today. It’s warm, but not as hot as the day of the Bears game. It’s a little bit cloudy, which makes it feel a little more like “football weather” than Week 2. But I’m guessing the temperature will hit the mid-70s and the east side of the stadium will bake in the sun throughout the afternoon.