SANTA CLARA -- It is a make-or-break season for Tank Carradine, who enters his contract year having shown few hints of why the 49ers selected him in the second round of the 2013 draft.

But some of his lack of production -- four sacks in 23 career games -- can be attributed to the 49ers’ inability to figure out a role that best suits him.

The organization believes Carradine is now where he belongs. He is working as an edge pass-rusher and is also working at outside linebacker after spending his first three seasons at defensive tackle.

“He’s got really strong hands, and he gets better every day,” 49ers senior defensive assistant/linebackers Jason Tarver said of Carradine. “He’s really built himself a good system for learning. (I’m) really proud of where he is and where he can go. But he’s strong and he’s starting to attack the line of scrimmage and really working hard both on his body and the mental game of football.”

Carradine, who has trimmed down and gotten quicker, has been one of the standouts during the 49ers’ offseason program, which concludes Thursday with the final practice of the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp. Carradine is not likely to be called upon to drop into coverage much, but he seems to be picking up some of the requirements of his position.

“We’re going to be up and down in our stances, two point and three point,” Tarver said. “We’ll vary that for a lot of different reasons. He’s working on both and he’s really improved his two-point roll-offs. He’s working on that every day.


“That way we can both rush and drop out of a three-point stance and the offense doesn’t necessarily know what we’re going to do.”

The 49ers selected Carradine with the No. 40 overall pick in 2013. He recorded 11 sacks during his final season at Florida State and was considered a likely first-round draft pick before sustaining a torn ACL. Although he spent time on the 49ers’ 53-man roster as a rookie, he did not suit up for any games.

Carradine appeared in a career-high 14 games last season and made his only NFL start but recorded just one sack on the season.