5 burning questions facing DeMeco Ryans, 49ers defense in 2021
By Peter Panacy
No. 4: Can 49ers safety duo of Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt stay healthy?
DeMeco Ryans and the entire San Francisco front office would have the right to shudder when thinking about injury concerns and risks after the 49ers were (and it wasn’t even close) the most injured team in the NFL a season ago.
Free safety Jimmie Ward, however, wasn’t part of that problem in 2020. Somewhat odd, considering Ward missed 29 regular-season games over the first four years of his career before enjoying relatively clean slates of health the last two season.
No complaints there, and the Niners are clearly better with Ward on the field than they are without him. Same goes with strong safety Jaquiski Tartt, whose injury woes have predominantly hit the last four years.
Tartt, who has landed on season-ending injured reserve in three of the last four seasons, has missed 29 regular-season games over the last four years of his career.
Almost a mirror image of Ward in that way, except Tartt has the unfortunate history of being the recent player on this side of the spectrum.
San Francisco stockpiled some safety depth during the offseason, namely by inking veterans like Tavon Wilson and Tony Jefferson while also using a day-three NFL Draft pick on Talanoa Hufanga.
Ryans is better guarded against injury at safety this year than he would have been in 2019 or 2020, which is a plus.
But the bigger plus would be for both Ward and Tartt to be on the field all year long.