San Francisco 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt started double-digit games for the first time in his career. There is no coincidence that Tartt also had the best season of his career from an impact standpoint. Sure, Tartt has had seasons where he’s had more tackles, but only the 2017 version of Tartt was in the same ballpark as last year.
When Tartt played, the 49ers had one of the best red zone defenses in the NFL and were the top defense in the league at limiting explosive passing plays on offense. Then, December came. Against the Ravens, Tartt fractured his ribs and would miss the final four games of the season. There were a few other injuries the 49ers suffered during the month, but Tartt’s was arguably the most notable. Marcell Harris filled in admirably, but the Niners weren’t as exotic with their coverages, and teams took advantage.
From Weeks 1 to 13, the 49ers allowed 19 explosive pass plays, or about 5% of the time, which lead the NFL. In the following four games, the 49ers allowed 15 explosive pass plays, nearly doubling the rate at 9%. Up until December 1, the defense held offenses to 41% in red zone touchdown percentage, which was third in the NFL. By the end of the month, that number jumped to 60%. Tartt may not generate turnovers as we want, but he makes a difference.
Weight: 215 pounds
Age: 28 (turns 29 on February 18)
Experience: Five accrued seasons
Tartt is entering the final year of his contract. His base salary is $4.3 million in 2020. Tartt has an active game bonus for 2020 worth $31,250, so if he’s active for each regular-season game, that’s an extra $500,000 in Tartt’s pockets.
Why he might regress in 2020
If these Jamal Adams rumors are true, Tartt would be included in any deal. If Tartt is on the roster, the biggest way he could regress is in the number of games he plays. In five years, Tartt has started double-digit games once. He’s played “starter snaps” twice. That came during his rookie year and last year. The 49ers are a Super Bowl contender, and teams have a lot of luck involved when it comes to making the big game. Injury luck is a big part of success in football. Does anyone honestly believe the 49ers would not be Super Bowl champs if they weren’t fully healthy? I didn’t think so. That is the name of the game, and more than ever, with where the 49ers’ window currently stands, the team needs Tartt to play in every game.
What to expect in 2020
You can’t fault Tartt for fractured ribs. Tying it back into Adams, I’d imagine dependability is one of the key reasons for acquiring the star safety, aside from the obvious of him being one of the best players at his position.
Turnovers and health are the only two reasonable gripes you could have towards Tartt.
If he’s on the field, the 49ers will once again be one of the best defenses in the NFL and will be stingy in the passing game. If he’s not, look for teams to take advantage of the Niners’ “traditional” looks in the secondary.