Yesterday, the 49ers moved defensive end Tank Carradine to injured reserve. He could be a candidate for return, but if not, it would mark a premature end to a promising campaign for the much-maligned fifth year defensive lineman.

He had appeared to have found his niche on the defensive line, as a “damn near elite” run stopping defensive end in the words of his new defensive co-ordinator. Now, his base defense role on the strong side could be split between rookie Solomon Thomas and a man who has primarily lined up as the team’s LEO, Arik Armstead. We could see the 49ers shift towards more of a left and right defensive end rather than them being strong side and weak side going forward.

Should Carradine not return, it will be interesting to see if he has done enough to be offered a new contract by the team at the end of this season, as he is a pending UDFA. It may be that Carradine’s injury saves the 49ers some money, as they can sign him to a cheaper deal than they might have been able to had he been healthy all year and performed consistently well. If the team do not resign him, it would be after a tantalising glimpse of what could have been after years of misuse under previous regimes in a 3-4 defense.

Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images