One of the best ways to make an NFL roster is by being versatile. Whether playing offense or defense any rookie coming into the league will have to show the coaching staff that they can do that and more if they have any plans of living out their dream in the NFL and San Francisco 49ers second-round pick (No. 46) SS Jaquiski Tartt is no different.
I talked to many of my friends who are Forever Faithful and they did not hesitate to question the selection. A position that doesn’t exactly fill an immediate need with a third to fourth-round grade by many NFL analysts, 49ers GM Trent Baalke pulled the trigger anyway on the small-school product.
However, despite Tartt playing safety on defense is main impact his rookie season should come as the new ‘gunner’ on special-teams. A logical answer to a team in dire need of new gunners as the team lost CB Tramaine Brock (moved to full-time cornerback), FS C.J. Spillman, SS Bubba Ventrone, and WR Kassim Osgood over the last couple of years, adding Tartt seems like the right fit.
I wrote an article not too long on why Tartt should be the new gunner as his hitting ability and instincts will allow him to make plays downfield, and it appears Tartt agrees. “That’s the plan,” Tartt told me after yesterday’s OTA practice. At 6-1, 221, Tartt sure brings the wood and wouldn’t surprise me if he’s the day one starter at gunner.
But what makes Tartt a viable threat? One, he loves to hit and understands how to take proper angles. This is key if you’re a gunner because if you give too much outside or inside leverage that will allow the returner to pick his running lane of choice,but if Tartt knows how to use the sideline as his friend that should help out the coverage unit as the returner will have limited room to work with.
I told #49ers SS Jaquiski Tartt that I'll be looking for him as the gunner on Special-teams and his response: "That's the plan!"
— Ryan Sakamoto (@SakamotoRyan) May 30, 2015
Aside from taking proper angles it’s his 4.53 speed that should bode well for him. He can get downfield in a hurry making life difficult for returners. A physical tackler with the aggressiveness to pop the ball loose, the addition of Tartt should do wonders for new special-teams coach Thomas McGaughey’s unit.
With the 49ers looking to bring back a Top 10 special-teams unit, it will be interesting to see who will be on the coverage unit as many players will be looking to make a name for themselves during this preseason.