49ers: Why Jacquiski Tartt is the Most Improved Player on Defense

Niners live continues with its recognition and awards by now giving credit where credit is due: Through the first quarter, Most Improved Defensive Player Award goes to Safety Jacquiski Tartt.


How we originally got here

The 6’1 and 221-pound Jacquiski Tartt was a surprise selection picked 46th overall in the second round of the 2015 draft out of Samford. He was highly touted for his aggressiveness, athleticism, and willingness to stick his nose in to deliver punishment on the opposition. During his week at the Senior Bowl, ESPN’s Todd McShay also weighed in on Tartt after the selection (via the team’s website). “He’s really good versus the run. He gets in the box and drops the hammer,” McShay said. Tartt attracted 18 NFL teams to his Samford pro day where Coach Les Davis referred to him as, “An absolute missile.”

Still a raw, unfinished product, however, Tartt needed to improve on his technique and read-and-react skills. He sometimes would look more like a linebacker being the last guy moving to the ball. Tartt at times goes for the big hit rather than making the safe tackle, which is something that he seems to be improving as he gains more opportunity.

NFL career recap

Jacquiski Tartt has appeared in 36 games over his three-year career with 20 starts, accounting for 165 combined tackles, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble with a total of nine passes defended (via ESPN.com).

Why he’s been the Most Improved Defensive Player

Per Pro Football focus, Tartt is listed behind Lions Safety Glover Quin and Seahawks Safety Kam Chancellor as an honorable mention in the First quarter 2017 All-Pro team with an 88.1 overall rating, consisting of an 88.9 pass coverage rating, 77.4 run defense, and 68.4 pass rush, in a total of 431 snaps played (Pro Football Focus subscription required). 

Note: Tartt is rated the 4th best safety in the NFL which by PFF standards is considered Elite company and level. His rating is second best on the team behind only DeForest Buckner’s 91.9 overall.

Tartt has mostly played at strong safety after injuries to Jimmie Ward and Eric Reid quickly moved him into the 49ers’ starting lineup. Through the first five games, Tartt has recorded 33 combined total tackles, three passes defended and an insane one-handed interception in the season opener against the Carolina Panthers. In his outing against the Indianapolis Colts, Tartt again impressed, finishing with seven tackles, three being solo, 0.5 sacks, 0.5 tackle for a loss and one QB hit. Fast forward to his play against the Washington Redskins this past week in game six; Tartt registered 6 total tackles, 4 being solo and 1 tackle for loss (his presence was felt the whole game); news flash, he’s getting better.

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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus49ers.comESPN.comNFL.com unless otherwise indicated. AuthorIrvin Johnson Staff Writer at Niners Live. Co-Author, Content Creator, Editor Sequoia Sims.