San Francisco 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt has been making more of an impact on the defense and special teams in his second season with the team. He saved the shutout vs. the Rams by running down the very speedy Tavon Austin in what was likely a punt return for a touchdown. Could he be one of the best special teams players in the league? He’d like to be considered as such but knows he still has a lot to work on.
Tartt played only 16 snaps or 26 percent of the defense but played 22 special teams plays which was 81%. This matched the team high. Three of the four times that Austin did not fair catch the punt, Tartt was the man who was able to tackle him, and it’s not the first time. The picture at the head of the article was from last season’s match up with the Rams.
Amazingly, Austin is actually not the fastest guy Tartt has chased down. That would be Kolby Listenbee who is currently a WR with the Buffalo Bills. The two faced off in college, and Tartt recalls running as fast as he could to catch him, but the track star was too fast for him. Tartt’s own combine times were 4.53 and 4.47 which he said were slower than he had recorded at Samford in Alabama.
Although Tartt only played in 16 snaps with the defense in week one, and primarily in the three safety package, he recorded one tackle, one combined and one quarterback hit that caused the press box to actually gasp. Tartt blitzed and leapt into the air before taking Rams Case Keenum to the ground. He said he felt like he had simply grabbed the QB’s chest and pulled him down, not doing anything wrong, and accordingly, no flags were thrown. His hard hitting style, however, is something he’s been known for.
DC Jim O’Neil had held back the the three safety set up during the preseason, but it will be one the team will likely be building on as the season progresses. With the experience of Antoine Bethea, the versatility of Eric Reid, and the speed and hitting of Tartt, the three could become a force to be reckoned with.