Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Bleacher Report ranks 49ers’ Jaquiski Tartt as NFL’s third-best strong safety

Jan 30, 2018 at 2:11 PM--

On Tuesday, Kyle Posey of NFL1000 ranked the NFL's top strong safeties of 2017 in a feature for Bleacher Report. The ranking is based on coverage, recovery, slot performance, tackling, and position value. Two San Francisco 49ers safeties are on the list.

The highest ranked 49ers player is Jaquiski Tartt, who came in as the third-best strong safety behind Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings and Patrick Chung of the New England Patriots, who are ranked first and second, respectively.

Tartt's 2017 season was cut short by a broken forearm. In nine games as a starter, he accumulated 55 combined tackles, an interception, three passes defensed, and half a sack. Despite the shortened season, Tartt finished as the 11th-highest graded safety by Pro Football Focus. In three NFL seasons, he has recorded 181 combined tackles, 3.5 sacks, nine passes defensed, and two interceptions through 39 games and 23 starts.

Posey, who serves as a defensive backs scout for NFL1000, wrote the following about Tartt:

"Jaquiski Tartt is a player. It's a shame he only played nine games. When Tartt was stationed in the box, he could avoid blockers or bob and weave through traffic to make stops near the line of scrimmage. He was most impressive in coverage and didn't struggle against anyone he faced. He also flashed the recovery skills of a corner. Tartt will only get better the more he plays. If you're a football fan, you should want him healthy."

Doug Farrar, who is a lead scout for NFL1000, added the following:

"Tartt missed nearly half the season with a broken forearm, but when he was in the lineup, he was a valuable part of the 49ers defense. He had the range to transition from intermediate to deep coverage, and he was strong enough to face up against the run. The third-year man from Samford is still getting his advanced coverage techniques together, but he's got all the range you'd want in a versatile safety."

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Tartt looks like a shoo-in to return as a starter for the 49ers in 2018. Another 49ers player who made the ranking may not even be on the roster next season. Eric Reid is scheduled to become a free agent in March, and it is unknown if the 49ers have any genuine intention of re-signing the safety. Reid is ranked as the 10th-best strong safety on the list. No other team is represented more than once within the top 10.

Reid also missed some time in 2017. He suffered a PCL injury during Week 2 and was forced to sit out the next three games. Upon returning to the lineup, Tartt had already taken over Reid's role. The 49ers attempted to move Reid to linebacker before an injury to safety Jimmie Ward allowed him to move back to strong safety with Tartt moving to free safety.

Posey wrote the following about Reid:

"Eric Reid was good everywhere. The fact he still lost his starting spot tells you how good Jaquiski Tartt was. Reid excelled in the box. He was aggressive against the run and didn't miss too many tackles. He had no problem going out wide or playing in slot coverage, either. Look for the impending free agent to have a big impact for whoever he plays for."

Farrar added the following:

"The 49ers asked Reid to play a host of roles in 2017—everything from 'moneybacker' to deep safety—and he took every challenge with aplomb. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh had Reid at the line of scrimmage a lot, where he could blitz, shoot the gaps to stop the run or drop into curl/flat coverage based on the defense. He has become one of the NFL's more versatile safeties and would be a major asset for any team looking to expand its nickel and dime coverage looks."

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