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Niner Talk Bonus: Tank Carradine Back in the Mix

Posted Jun 2, 2014

This week's bonus round of "Niner Talk" touches on several updates from the Organized Team Activities taking place with the San Francisco 49ers.

We're entering week two of OTAs and there's plenty of storylines to track with the San Francisco 49ers.

Once again, you've asked me several questions for this week's "Niner Talk," and now it's time to answer some of the ones that just missed out on video air time.

Let's get right to the text version of the show.

Sure can. But before I do, I'd like to mention that this topic came up in our recent 49ers Radio podcast (you can listen to it on 49ers.com, or you can subscribe to our iTunes channel).

I went into lots of details on the current roster, so definitely check out the podcast and this OTA preview story. But to answer your question here, there are a couple other storylines that are peeking my interest. I'm curious to see how the quarterback battle shakes out.

Blaine Gabbert was added to the team via trade, Josh Johnson was picked up in free agency and Kory Faulkner was signed as an undrafted rookie. How will those three continue to mesh in with Colin Kaepernick and McLeod Bethel-Thompson? I can't remember the 49ers having five quarterbacks on the roster, but it appears as though the team wants to evaluate all five players and see how the competition will raise the level of play from the group. San Francisco did carry two quarterbacks on the roster in 2013 and that was the first time Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke had done that while working together. Prior to that, they always carrier three signal-callers.

Elsewhere, I'm curious to see how outside linebacker Aaron Lynch continues in his development. He's a big dude. How fast can he learn the system? And can he push Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier for playing time? Lynch is a rookie to watch this summer. He has the size of an NFL pass rusher and each time he's at practice he has a chance to learn from some of the best defensive coaches and players in today's NFL.

Tramaine Brock.

He has the confidence of a top cornerback and the work ethic to match. Again, I mentioned this on the podcast (shameless plug), Brock has looked the part so far this offseason. He showed up early to offseason workouts when he didn't have to. He wanted to. He wanted to get ahead of the game and put in extra work to make himself a better player.

It's way, way too early to tell. I definitely want to see Chris Culliver return to the field before handicapping this battle. Culliver was held out of OTAs last week, as he is recovering from the knee injury that kept him out in '13. He could be out again this week. Chris Cook was given first-team reps at right cornerback from what the media saw last week. Cook has a chance to be a starter, but the same could be said for several others in the cornerback group.

This position, like free safety last year, could be decided late in the preseason.

Stay tuned.

Harbaugh and Baalke consider a nickel cornerback to be a starter, so with that said, Jimmie Ward has the best chance of being a "starter."

He's been drafted to add immediate depth at nicel defensive back and has the ability to make that happen. Ward, however, has been nursing a foot injury and has not joined his teammates for drills during OTAs just yet. He's expected to be healthy by training camp at the latest.

As for an honorable mention, third-round draft pick Marcus Martin is in competition with Daniel Kilgore to be San Francisco's starting center. Martin, 20, could be the youngest starter in team history if he wins the job. Nothing will be handed to him. Kilgore was signed to an extension this offseason and has been the first-team center in OTAs thus far.

I'll go with what Stevie Johnson said, "We're all ones."

Anquan Boldin went out of his way last year to say Michael Crabtree was the team's No. 1 receiver and that's still likely the case. With Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd added to the mix, Crabtree and Boldin will remain as huge options in the passing game.

Don't forget, Crabtree and Kaepernick have a really strong on-field rapport. It likely won't matter who the leading receiver is at the end of the year. The wins come first.

I don't think so, but I could be wrong. There's not many founding members left of the group. That kick-off group was certainly a memorable moment in time, but we shouldn't force the name on this year's bunch.

These things need to happen organically.

Tank Carradine seems to be moving around well right now. The hard part is giving a true evaluation because the on-field work in team drills isn't quite training camp tempo.

It's a great sign to see Carradine mixing in with the second-team defensive line during OTAs, but the non-contact nature of the practices make it hard to see a defensive lineman's true strength. We'll continue to keep a close eye on last year's second-round draft pick to see how he'll fit into the defensive plans in 2014.


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