Unlike most Trent Baalke draft picks, strong safety Jaquiski Tartt flashed his potential early in his career. The San Francisco 49ers selected Tartt in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, and he showed what he was capable of in his rookie season.
Despite playing for a floundering organization at the time, Tartt racked up 65 tackles, an interception, and 2 sacks in his rookie season. After dealing with injury issues early in his second year, Tartt began finding his groove during the second half of the 2016 season. With Eric Reid injured, Tartt came on late and showed the 49ers they had a long-term solution at the position.
The next two years weren’t kind to the 28-year-old. He broke his arm in Week 9 of the 2017 season and missed the rest of the year. Then, in 2018, a nagging shoulder injury forced him to miss eight games.
Tartt and the entire defense took a huge step in 2019. San Francisco’s defense was one of the best in all of the NFL, led by a fierce pass rush and solid secondary, the 49ers went on to finish the regular season with a 13-3 record. Tartt and fellow safety Jimmie Ward solidified the back end of the Niners’ defense. He finished with 48 tackles (one for a loss), two passes defended, and a quarterback hit, helping the 49ers make a run to the Super Bowl.
The strong safety caught up with the media at training camp and opened up about the crushing loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco’s mindset going into Week 1, and how feels about the 2020 season being the final year of his contract with the 49ers.
On what he focused on this offseason, and how he expects his chemistry to be alongside Jimmie Ward:
My main focus was just to get back healthy and for me and Jimmy, I feel like, for us, this defense is it has a lot of good players and we play as a team. So for us, it’s just trying to stay on the little things.
What did it mean to get support on Twitter from Richard Sherman during the Jamal Adams trade rumors?
To be honest, he didn’t reach out to me about that. He just reached out to me to see what I was up to. Had nothing to do with that. It was just a moment like, I was just thinking about just me being in college and watching Sherm at the Superbowl and, stuff like that. I was with my friends and family down in Florida. My cousin sees him call me. He’s like, it’s Richard Sherman? I just had a little fan moment. As far as the Jamal Adams talk, I mean, it’s quarantine, the media needs some kind of attention. So I don’t too much worry about all that.
On what kind of scouting report he could give on Tavon Austin:
Man, somebody who can stretch the field and is very elusive. I feel like he’s still got it, and he could help our team a lot on offense, and special teams.
On how the defense can improve against the run?
For the defense you know, we want to stop the run first and foremost. So for us like being able to stop the run, get offenses in predictable downs. For us that’s a huge key, just coming out this year, being able to stop the run. I feel like also when we faced teams that liked to run, I feel like we showed up and we stopped them. For example, the Vikings. They ran the ball all over the saints in the playoffs and for us like we knew we hadn’t stopped the run. I feel like that’s what we did.
On how his ribs feel going into the season?
I’ll be honest, I don’t even know how I was out there [last season]. But, I knew my team needed me. So I made sure I was able to play and be ready. I mean, it’s football. It’s part of football, being injured. I’ve been through the injury before, like in 2017, but it’s something that you can play through.
What is the mindset of the team going into the 2020 season?
It’s a great feeling to have is knowing like everybody got that same mindset walking into the locker room. I mean a feeling like that making it all the way there, and not winning it, just leaves that sick feeling in you. For us, we want to get back to that stage and win it all.
On if this being a contract year changes anything with his approach to the season?
Well for me my preparation and never changes immensely. I feel like every, I can easily be replaced. So for me, I just want to get better each and every day and like, just show that I can play at a high level. I just say at the end of the year that I just let my game do the talking.
Do you think Tartt will be back with the 49ers for the 2021 season?