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Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Teams have called about 49ers D-line, Jaquiski Tartt ‘has it all,’ tough decisions coming, says John Lynch

Aug 23, 2019 at 7:00 AM--

Could San Francisco 49ers strong safety Jaquiski Tartt be poised for a big year? He looked good against the Denver Broncos on Monday night until he got a bit shaken up. Tartt was evaluated for a concussion but was cleared to return to the game.

Tartt has landed on injured reserve in each of his last two seasons. Many felt the 49ers might target a safety or two in free agency or the draft, but both came and went without any additions capable of competing for starting jobs.

Sure, the 49ers added cornerback Jason Verrett and moved Tarvarius Moore back to safety, his natural position, but the entire defensive backfield heads into 2019 mostly unchanged from a season ago.

"The past two years, I've been injured," Tartt said earlier this month. "For them to still believe in me is a great thing. For the rest of the secondary, we're young, but at the same time, we can play ball, and that's what we plan on doing this year — showing everybody we can actually play."

John Lynch believes in Tartt's ability, especially after watching the 27-year-old safety on Monday night. The 49ers general manager joined KNBR on Thursday to discuss the fifth-year player.

"Yeah, if he can play like that every week, Larry (Krueger), he'll do very well in this league for a long, long time," Lynch said.

He added, "That was fun to watch, and the most fun thing for me was watching how much fun he was having playing football. He's an extremely talented (player). There's very few safeties in this league that run 4.3 that are 220 pounds, that can blitz like he can, that have instinct. Jaquiski has it all. It's just the consistency of doing it each and every week, and that's a great start right there."

The defensive backs managed just two interceptions last season, both of which were hauled in by safeties. The total set a new NFL record for the fewest in a single season, which goes along with the defense's seven forced turnovers, also a single-season record.

Lynch hopes the team's offseason upgrades change that. As mentioned, those upgrades weren't among the defensive backs. Instead, they were up front. The 49ers added two pass rushers in veteran Dee Ford and rookie Nick Bosa, and hopefully found a Reuben Foster replacement in linebacker Kwon Alexander.

That should make things easier for everyone across the board, especially with new NFL rules always seemingly favoring the offense.

"You can't hit people across the middle," Lynch said. "The intimidation is gone. The one thing you can do, you can get after a quarterback, and you can put him under duress, and you can make him feel you. We've built this team to do just that."

Lynch and the 49ers might have done such a good job upgrading the defensive front that they now seemingly have an embarrassment of riches there. The defensive line boasts five former first-round picks and a lot of young talent. Names like Kentavius Street, Damontre Moore, Jeremiah Valoaga, D.J. Jones, and Kevin Givens are going to make the decisions leading to the 53-man roster cutdown on August 31 very difficult.

"I think in general, [the depth is] one of the things that we're happy about," Lynch said. "But it's also going to make for some tougher decisions. The back end of our roster, there's some real strong players, more than we can keep, and that's what you want. It will make for some tough decisions.

"I'd be lying if I told you people haven't been calling, but we're still trying to figure it out ourselves, what the right mix is. Sometimes that doesn't always mean the 53 most-talented guys. It's a lot of discussions about what's going to make us the strongest team. Some guys that have tremendous versatility, that comes in handy.

"There's all kinds of different decisions and evaluation points. Those are ongoing, and those are good problems to have, but there are a ton of discussions that are really tough ones because we've got a lot of guys that are capable of making this roster."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.

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