Over the past two seasons, Jaquiski Tartt has been off the field almost as much as he’s been on it.
The 49ers versatile safety played just eight games in 2018 and nine the previous year.
But when he’s on the field, manning the strong safety position, Tartt can make a big impact and the Niners are hoping the 27-year-old product of Samford – a second-round pick in 2015 – can finally remain healthy in 2019.
In the 49ers’ 24-15 exhibition-game victory over the Broncos in Denver Monday night, Tartt showed why, with two tackles for loss and a pass breakup.
Tartt isn’t a huge safety at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, but he’s a ferocious hitter and his cornerback-like coverage skills make him a versatile piece of Robert Saleh’s defense. He can play close to the line of scrimmage against the run, cover a wide receiver in the slot or battle bigger tight ends in coverage.
Tartt got off to a strong start in 2018 before suffering a fractured arm for the second straight season. In eight games he had 42 tackles (four for loss), an interception and two passes defensed.
The 49ers and Tartt dodged a bullet in the game against the Broncos when Tartt – after a hit – was evaluated for a concussion. But, he was cleared and returned to the game.
Now Tartt believes he can be even better in 2019 because every day he has to go against perhaps the NFL’s best tight end, George Kittle, in practice.
“I’m going against Kittle every time (in practice),” Tartt said recently on KNBR. “Every one-on-one, I’m going against Kittle. Kittle’s one of the best tight ends in the league. He has a little wiggle to him and speed, strength, all that. Kittle, he’s been getting me better.”
With two exhibition games to go, Tartt is listed as No. 1 at strong safety on the 49ers’ depth chart, with Adrian Colbert listed as the starter at free safety, with Tarvarius Moore right behind him. Tartt and his teammates will get their next tune-up Saturday against the Chiefs in Kansas City.