SANTA CLARA (CBS/AP) — Tank Carradine repeatedly made one thing clear: his right knee has made a remarkable recovery from November reconstructive surgery and he expects no long-term problems that could derail his NFL career.
The San Francisco 49ers selected the defensive end from Florida State with the 40th pick in the second round of the NFL draft Friday, and are expected to use him initially as an outside linebacker in their 3-4 defense.
“My knee feels great. There’s nothing wrong with my knee,” Carradine said on a conference call. “There’s no long-term things that I think will go wrong with my knee, because I’m healthy.”
The 49ers are counting on him emerging as a consistent contributor in short order. A talented pass-rusher from both sides of the line, Carradine could eventually shift to defensive end down the road if Justin Smith leaves the franchise — and he is heading into the final year of his contract.
The agile Carradine, known for his quick-burst ability off the line, played right defensive end in college.
49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula traveled to Carradine’s hometown of Cincinnati last week to watch him hold a workout. They also enjoyed a productive get-to-know-you dinner.
“It was a great dinner. We talked about football, we talked about life as well,” Carradine said. “He was able to get to know me as a person and a player and I was able to get to know him as a coach. I see myself fitting right in and come out there and learn from that defense.”
San Francisco pulled off a trade with Tennessee on Friday afternoon to give up the 34th choice and move down six slots, also acquiring the Titans’ seventh-round choice at No. 216 and a third-round pick next year.
A day after trading up to select free safety Eric Reid with the 18th pick, general manager Trent Baalke addressed another need on Day 2. The GM said Thursday he was prepared to make the pick at 34, or trade it if the NFC champions received the right offer.
Clearly, the 49ers wanted Carradine. While he hopes to participate in the team’s rookie minicamp next month, he knows the doctors will make the final call — and he wants to make sure he is healthy to contribute right away as a rookie.
Yet Carradine wasn’t sure whether teams would shy away from him considering the knee issue.
“I was able to come back fast,” he said. “I was hoping I would go in the second round and teams would take a chance on me in the second round.”
The 6-foot-4, 276-pound Carradine will add depth and fill voids to a unit following the departures of nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga and tackle Ricky Jean Francois in free agency.
Aside from the obvious — his ability to bull through offensive linemen — Carradine earned his nickname at a young age.
“My mom gave it to me when I was a kid,” he said. “I had an Army tank that was always with me. I always had to have it with me.”
And, yes, he still has the beloved toy. His mother saved it for him.
(Copyright 2013 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)