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49ers rookies 2015 review: Jaquiski Tartt

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How did Jaquiski Tartt fare in 2015 compared to our preseason thoughts? Will we see him take a significant step forward in 2016?

Arik Armstead | Jaquiski Tartt | Mike Davis | Eli Harold

Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Each offseason, we like to run a series of articles here on Niners Nation called "90-in-90." In the post, we take a look at 90 players (or so) on the San Francisco 49ers' 90-man roster throughout the offseason and what we can expect of them the following year. We take a look at their expected impact, whether or not they'll make the roster and things of that nature. For rookies, we're going back and looking at how we did with those posts.

Fooch already covered first-round pick Arik Armstead, a player who had little impact as a rookie but who was considered raw and unready for a starting job before the season. Now we're going to take a look at my favorite pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, former Samford safety Jaquiski Tartt.

When his 90-in-90 post went up, the expectations were fairly low, but that's because the 49ers already had a strong pair of safeties in Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea. The possibility of Tartt being used as an extra linebacker was floated around and that did happen. He's a tall, physical safety and it's obvious he fit the mold of multiple former 49ers safeties before him: a guy who can come up and make a play and hit hard while doing it.

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.

This turned out to be quite correct in a number of ways. Tartt was an extra player until Bethea, whose future with the team was already up in the air due to a number of factors, went down with a season-ending injury. Tartt wound up starting eight games in Bethea's place and he had his ups and downs.

Tartt didn't take the best angles and he was beaten in coverage, but ultimately, he looked far more ready for the NFL than many considered possible given his lack of experience and his small school program. He looked like an NFL safety, and in 15 total games he finished with 65 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception.

He wasn't on the level of Bethea, who looked like one of the best safeties in the league since joining the 49ers. But given Bethea's injury and his cap hit in 2016, Tartt's quick-learning and strong play may have earned himself a starting job at the strong safety position.

The 90-in-90 post on Tartt was complimentary but cautious. If that injury to Bethea doesn't happen, then Tartt doesn't see the field nearly as much and he wouldn't have been able to exceed Fooch's immediate expectations. But it was a pretty fair assessment of the rookie and I think we can all be pleased with where things have ended up.