Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but Fooch is a crazy person who manages this blog with no rhyme or reason and it's worked so far. Who am I to argue?
The San Francisco 49ers surprised a lot of people this past April when they selected Jaquiski Tartt with their second round pick. The 49ers selected Jimmie Ward a year ago, and while he focused on the nickel role his rookie year, long-term there was the thought that he would take over one of the safety roles.
Tartt was a small-school prospect out of Samford, but he brings serious size to the field. He stands 6'1 and weighs 221 pounds, making him the biggest defensive back on the roster. David Neumann broke down some tape on Tartt, and points out how much he stands out compared to other FCS players.
Tartt ended up at Samford primarily because he did not start playing football until the second half of his junior year of high school. He played basketball the first three years of high school, but then in the spring of his junior year, players at his school convinced him to go out for football. That included Jimmie Ward, who was a friend of his. Tartt got early love from Samford, and due to his late start in football, major programs had all used up their scholarships and were looking ahead to the next class.
As one might expect with his size, he is best utilized in the box, defending against the run. He will have a lot to work on in coverage, and as David pointed out, his angles will need some work. You can read additional scouting reports at NFL.com, National Football Post and Bleacher Report.
What to expect in 2015:
Tartt's primary role is likely to be on special teams. His strong tackling ways are built for special teams, and it is something he can contribute to right away. The question is if the 49ers can find another role for him this year. David pointed to the potential for his involvement in the "big nickel" defense. The Arizona Cardinals used Deone Bucannon in such a manner, and given his size, Tartt seems like a strong candidate for such a role. The 49ers coaching staff has talked extensively this offseason about developing versatility on the roster. Although Tartt might be a long-term safety option, his ability to contribute as a sort of nickel linebacker would be a significant opportunity for him as a rookie.
Long-term, it gets a little more interesting. Assuming his foot is healthy, Jimmie Ward is going to get plenty of opportunities in the nickel this year. However, Antoine Bethea's time with the 49ers is still to be determined. He is coming off a strong first year with the team, and is signed through 2017. He will start at strong safety this year, but next year the cap savings increases enough that the team could consider alternatives. Add in Eric Reid's concussions and the uncertainty that can create in the future, and it makes sense to have a lot of safety options in the pipeline.
Odds of making the roster:
The 49ers are not going to cut a second round pick in his first training camp. He will be on the roster, and he will be a very active member of the special teams units. He might struggle in developing into an NFL-caliber special teams player (not to mention safety and/or big nickel linebacker), but he will get plenty of opportunities right off the bat.