Very on early Tuesday morning, I was up watching the All-22 game film from the 49ers' exciting victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. As I sat there poring over the tape, one thought kept percolating over and over in my head, which was, “Jaquiski Tartt is making plays EVERYWHERE.”
Whether it was crashing downfield to blow up a run play in the box or eliminating a receiving threat with his coverage ability and everything else in between, all I could keep coming back to was how frequently Tartt was flashing play after play after play.
Now let’s make one thing clear. This is not a new development, as Tartt has been an excellent player for a few seasons. However, this wasn’t some newfound revelation or a breakout performance by any means. Tartt has been THAT guy for some time now. However, I realized that he never seems to get the recognition he deserves from the media and fans alike.
There are plenty of 49ers fans who are more than aware of how important Tartt is to the success of the defense. But, unfortunately, there are also a large number of fans who have their perception and opinions molded by media-driven narratives, and as a result, it appears that a large portion of the 49ers fanbase has seemingly overlooked just how truly special of a player Tartt is.
I put together some numbers to show just how crucial Tartt is to the unit's overall success that is currently on pace to finish as a top 10 defense for the third consecutive season. Let’s take a look at how the 49ers' defense fares with Tartt on the field compared to when he is not on the field.
These are the numbers for the 49ers defense in the games that Tartt played more than 50% of the defensive snaps since the start of the 2019 season:
Points per Game - 19.6
Total Yards Allowed per Game - 290.2
Passing Yards Allowed per Game - 178.9
Now let’s take a look at what the 49ers defense looks like when Tartt is not on the field for more than 50% of the snaps:
Points per Game - 26.4
Total Yards per Game - 331.5
Passing Yards per Game - 222.3
Over that same span, the 49ers have a .642 winning percentage in the games Tartt plays more than 50% of the defensive snaps, and that number drops to .470 when Tartt does not.
The eye test alone should tell you how important Tartt is, but when you account for these numbers and how massive the drop off is across the board when Tartt isn’t on the field, there isn’t really much of a debate to be had at all about how significant his impact is.
It is important to remember that numbers alone don’t do it justice either because not all statistics are created equal when examining a box score.
Tartt is one of the surest tacklers I have ever seen, and his ability to cover ground and take down opponents in the open field is so vital to the success of the 49ers' defense and the team as a whole. His ability to eliminate potential big play’s for opposing offenses is something that happens so regularly. But, unfortunately, I feel it gets glossed over based simply on how routine he makes it look.
So in the future, keep a close eye on #3 because I can all but guarantee you that you will eventually find yourself in a spot where you are left sitting there in a moment of reflection just like I was. A moment where you are left wondering just how the collective 49ers community (media/fans etc.) has been able to seemingly disregard a player who has made such meaningful contributions to winning efforts over a sustained period of time.