The 49ers will be without starting outside linebacker Aaron Lynch for the first four games of the season, creating questions around the team's source of pass rush.
San Francisco, however, is hoping it will see a jump from former 2013 second-round pick Tank Carradine, who has put forth a solid preseason performance through two games.
And it may be due to a switch back to his natural position as an edge rusher.
"I’m still adapting, I’m still getting used to playing outside linebacker, but I like it," Carradine told the team's official website of his conversion to rush linebacker from defensive tackle.
"Still got some learning to do," he added. "Still watching Aaron (Lynch) and Ahmad (Brooks), and picking up some of their habits."
Carradine, 27, initially bulked up to play defensive line for the 49ers after a double-digit sack season as a 43 defensive end for Florida State.
He credits the position switch for the uptick in preseason production and why he's optimistic about this year.
"Because I feel comfortable," Carradine said. "I'm not 300-some pounds. I'm 270 pounds, my college weight, where I was at."
Carradine through two games is tied for third in the NFL with the most preseason QB pressures among 34 outside linebackers with six, according to Pro Football Focus.
He also shares the highest pass-rush grade among all 34 outside linebackers, per the analytics site.
"I’m able to play on the outside; being able to set the edge, rush the passer from the outside, and being able to cover guys," Carradine said. "And being able to stand up, and being able to see everything that’s going on instead of being down in the 3-technique position where I can't see, not knowing what’s going on. So I’m able to see more and do more stuff, able to help the team playing outside linebacker, so I like it a lot."
Carradine feels his edge speed is back, a tool that helped him accrue 16.5 sacks over two seasons for the Seminoles after transferring from JUCO.
"I feel fast, really fast," the pass rusher said. "Since I lost all my weight, I feel pretty fast. I still feel like, you know, I still got some stuff to work on, like just getting used to certain coverages, so I can look even faster. But besides that, I think I feel OK."
He's even developed more pass-rush moves, crediting veteran linebacker and 2013 Pro Bowler Ahmad Brooks for his newest one.
"Spin move. And like, out in space, you got more space. Just the spin move. Watching the other guys spin, I say, you know what, trust me I was never like a guy that spins, but now, I’m gonna have to put that in my play as a pass rusher."
Now comfortable physically, Carradine's mentality has also been able to shift forward.
"I just need to go out there and play every play like it's my last play. Give it all I got...take advantage of my opportunity."