Biggest questions facing 49ers at safety
Retaining Jaquiski Tartt probably was a smart move. As of this writing, the financial details aren’t out yet. But the fact it’s a one-year deal and Tartt went through a full week of NFL free agency without garnering much interest is a suggestion he returned on the cheap, not unlike cornerback Jason Verrett’s one-year deal worth $5.3 million.
That said, Tartt does have a lengthy injury pedigree.
Last year, Tartt suffered a season-ending turf-toe injury that limited him to just seven games. Combined over the last four years, Tartt has missed 28 regular-season games in total and has ended up on injured reserve in three of those four years.
Needless to say, finding someone who can adequately back him up at strong safety is vital.
Pass Coverage is the 49ers’ biggest want
According to Pro Football Focus, Tartt had a pass-coverage grade of 63.5 last year and 67.9 the year before that.
Tartt’s two backups last season, Tarvarius Moore and Marcell Harris, had coverage grades of 56.1 and 36.6, respectively, suggesting the addition of Tavon Wilson was intended not only to give San Francisco some help on special teams but to also help with the pass-coverage aspects, too.
Wilson’s 2020 pass-coverage mark on 150 coverage snaps was 64.2.
What are 49ers’ long-term options beyond 2021?
Harris and Tartt are both back on one-year deals, while Wilson signed a one-year contract. Moore, meanwhile, enters a crucial fourth year after being selected by the 49ers in Round 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Simply put, the Niners could be facing a nearly identical situation a year from now as they did entering 2021.
Young defensive backs often struggle to transition from the college ranks to the pros, given the increased nature of competition and opposing pass-catchers running more complex routes, being bigger, faster and stronger, etc.
It also doesn’t help the 2021 NFL Draft class isn’t particularly impressive at safety either, meaning San Francisco could be forced to rely on a rookie or another free-agent addition next season.
A problem for 2022, perhaps.