While some teams that scouted Tank Carradine envisioned the 273-pounder as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, the 49ers see him putting on weight and putting his hand on the ground as a defensive end. General manager Trent Baalke said Carradine could play a range of positions - defensive end (like Justin Smith and Ray McDonald) in the team's base defense or any of the four defensive-line spots in the sub package.
"He's going to play down," Baalke said. "He's not an outside linebacker. In our system - it's one of the things we really like is his versatility. He's a little bit bigger than Ray was when Ray came out."
McDonald was listed as 6-4, 276 pounds when he came out of college. He now weighs about 290 pounds. Smith, meanwhile, was a 267-pound defensive end out of Missouri. He now weighs closer to 300 pounds. Baalke said he thought Carradine could get into that range.
"We think he has the frame to do that," he said. "We definitely think there's room for growth, but you never know until you get your hand on him."
The bigger question, for the start of 2013 at least, is Carradine's surgically repaired knee. Baalke said the Florida State product was actually "a little cleaner" medically than McDonald, who also had knee issues coming out of college.
"That remains to be to seen," Baalke said. "We're very confident in what we know of the condition. Our medical staff has taken a close look at him, and we spent several hours yesterday reviewing his file and going through it with all the doctors up in Stanford. The time frame - that's really up to the medical staff."
One more note on Carradine: The Florida State web page lists his birthday as 2/18/1989, which would make him 24 and thus a bit older than most rookies. In fact, his birthday is actually 2/18/1990, which makes him 23.
- Matt Barrows