The 49ers are hoping for similar production from safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt in 2020, but there could be problems.
The Niners’ No. 1-ranked pass defense owed a lot to these two players, who essentially enjoyed career years last season. Those efforts prompted San Francisco to reward Ward with a new three-year deal, too.
And with Tartt hitting a contract year, it’s not out of the question to think he’s next.
At the same time, though, there were notable holes in the armor last season, particularly when both players missed time due to injury. Ward missed two games early on with a broken finger. Upon his return, however, the 49ers secondary solidified into a cohesive unit. Tartt’s absence due to a ribs injury was felt much more, though, as Fourth and Nine’s Akash Anavarathan pointed out in light of recent trade rumors for the New York Jets’ Jamal Adams:
Both of these players offered a lot last season, exemplified by Pro Football Focus ranking Ward the No. 6 overall safety in 2019 with Tartt coming in with a solid 64.9 overall grade.
But there remain some key questions heading into this season, not just with the starting duo, but also the players behind them. What are the factors and X-factors San Francisco should be concerned about? Is it realistic to expect both players to maintain the level of play the 49ers enjoyed last season?
Here are three of those burning questions the Niners have to ask about this position heading into 2020.