There’s a good reason why Carradine is only looking forward these days.
The 24-year-old defensive lineman did not record a sack, nor did he suit up for a game in his first season in the league.
This explains why Carradine, a decorated collegiate pass-rusher, has so much personal excitement and fanfare circling his first on-field appearance with the 49ers.
The 6-foot-4 defensive tackle, who was drafted 40th overall last April, recorded 42.5 sacks at Kansas’ Butler Community College and went on to add 16.5 more sacks at Florida State, including 11 as a senior.
Carradine said he now feels poised to showcase the football ability that made him a second-round draft pick. But first, Carradine had to fully recover from an ACL tear in his right knee.
Entering his first offseason in the NFL, Carradine said he is not concerned about how his rookie season ultimately became a pseudo redshirt year. The former collegiate defensive end is fully recovered from the ACL injury he suffered 16 months ago. Carradine recently had his right knee scoped at the start of February to clean up scar tissue in his surgically repaired knee.
Carradine was placed on the team’s Reserve/Non-Football Injury list to start his rookie campaign. He stayed there until late October, when he officially activated off the list to join his teammates at practice. Carradine was eventually activated to the 53-man roster but never saw the field. San Francisco officially ended his season when they placed the young lineman on Injured Reserve on Dec. 10.
Carradine said he felt like he could contribute during his rookie season, but ultimately it was best for him to let his knee fully recover.
“When I was out there running, it didn’t feel like my other knee,” Carradine said of his month of practices with the 49ers. “But once they went in there and took out the scar tissue, both my knees felt the same.”
Carradine said he has full range of motion in both knees and he’s able to properly do all of his offseason workouts, including squats.
Carradine’s workouts were greatly inspired from his time learning under veteran defensive linemen on the roster like
“I just tried to follow their lead,” Carradine said. “Even though I wasn’t out there playing, I was able to pick it up mentally.
“I got to see how to be a pro by how they did things. Now I know how to prepare for practice, prepare in the offseason, and get ready for camp and things like that.”
Carradine also praised defensive line coach Jim Tomsula and is eager to continue being mentored by the respected position coach.
“I’m ready to go and excited about what he’s going to teach me,” Carradine said.
The young lineman is up to 295 pounds. He said he remains confident that his pass-rushing talent will translate into his role as a defensive tackle in San Francisco’s 3-4 scheme.
“I still think I’m a speed guy,” Carradine said.
Although he won’t be lining up on the edge like he did during his college career, Carradine believes he can use his natural quickness to defeat blocks from interior linemen.
“I’m still going to be able to show I’m a speed guy,” Carradine said before comparing his college assignments to what he’ll face in the NFL. “It’s different because you’re taking more of a double (block). It’s a little different, but it’s something I can adjust to.
“I’ll be rushing on the inside more, but it gives me an advantage. You put a speed guy, who is a little bigger now on a guard, it’s good for him to rush.”
Carradine said his on-field self is a hybrid of New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp.
Now, a rested and rejuvenated Carradine, has an opportunity in 2014 to prove he’s worthy of such comparisons.
“I’m good to go, ready to go,” Carradine said. “It felt like I’d never been hurt before.”