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Tank Carradine Draws Inspiration from Justin Smith

Posted Jun 18, 2014

The San Francisco 49ers second-year defensive tackle has learned tools of his trade from the veteran, who won't be a full-go on the practice field until training camp.

In the words of Tank Carradine, Justin Smith plays every down like it's his last.

Carradine understands why.

The San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle is entering his real rookie season in the NFL. He missed all of 2013 rehabbing the torn ACL he suffered before San Francisco spent a second-round draft pick on him.

"To see everything he and Aldon Smith did together, it was amazing," Carradine said of Justin Smith. "If I compare myself to him, there are some similarities, but I am my own player. He is his own player."

Coincidentally, Smith is now the one on the sideline. The starting lineman, who "is working through something," was present for Wednesday's veteran minicamp session. "He hasn't been cleared to practice," Jim Harbaugh said, "but he will be by training camp."

By which point, Carradine will have taken a lot of Smith's practice reps. The Florida State product wants every one he can get after spending all of '13 attending meetings, learning defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's playbook and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula's technique of choice.

"Learning the game of football in the NFL is much different than in college. I was able to take in everything," he said. "I feel like I'm ahead of the game."

Carradine said he has learned both the right- and left-side defensive tackle positions. Smith and Ray McDonald are slated to retain their starting spots at those positions.

The 6-foot-4, 273-pound second-year pro played defensive end in FSU's 4-3 defensive scheme. He said he is confident rushing both from the edge and while lining up opposite of offensive guards, who are generally less athletic than offensive tackles.


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