Jaquiski Tartt is one of a couple of late Trent Baalke draft picks that 49ers fans, much to their distaste, have to be grateful for. Drafted out of Samford in the second round of the 2015 draft, Tartt has developed into an incredibly versatile option at safety and is a perfect fit in the 49ers’ defense under Robert Saleh.
He was rewarded for his breakout 2017 season with a two-year contract extension, as the 49ers’ brass kept a player they were clearly high on but enabled themselves at least another couple of years to evaluate Tartt’s development in the scheme (as well as that of the other, younger, safeties on the roster). Tartt enters his fourth season in the NFL as an unquestioned starter for the first time in his career, and will be looking to ensure that he takes the opportunity presented to him to be a crucial part of the 49ers’ growth and earn the team and personal honors that could accompany that growth.
Experience: 3 accrued seasons
Tartt’s extension was an extension added on to his current rookie deal, signing him through the 2020 season. Following the extension, the financial impact of the fourth and final year of his rookie contract has been altered. He now has a cap hit of $3,102,686 and a dead cap of $3,002,686 in the extraordinarily unlikely circumstance he does not make the roster.
Why he might improve in 2018
Another year in the scheme will only help Tartt, as it should any other player on the 49ers’ roster. Tartt has spoken of its simplicity and more experience in the scheme lends itself to quicker mental processing, enabling players to do their job without thinking. Tartt hurtling round the field, uninhibited by unnecessary mental processing, will likely be a joy to watch.
Furthermore, he continues to work at his craft, specifically his block shedding a year after suffering two sprained wrists, as well as continuing to hone his coverage technique. With a litany of the league’s top tight ends on the schedule, Tartt will get the chance to show just how effective a tight end eraser he is. I know who my money is on. Avoiding the early end to last season could ultimately be the key to Tartt being able to showcase his improvement to a wide audience however.
Why he might regress in 2018
Those aforementioned top tight ends would appear to be the biggest obstacle. Tartt has already shown that he is capable of performing against the best tight ends in the league and will have to contend with them on a regular basis this season. Players of the ilk of Travis Kelce, Cameron Brate, OJ Howard, Jimmy Graham and Trey Burton will punish poor play, and Tartt will have to ensure he is on his ‘A’ game whenever he steps onto the field. Right now, his play suggests he is in the upper echelon of coverage safeties in the NFL. A couple of bad games against the best tight ends in the league will change that perception.
Odds of making the roster
A lock to make the roster, Tartt will enter the season as a starter, one half of the hardest hitting safety duo in the NFL.