While the 49ers may want to retain veteran safety Jaquiski Tartt, these four NFL Draft prospects might help fill the void if he leaves in 2022.
Forget about his dropped would-be interception in the NFC Championship game for a moment. And to a point, let’s forget about his otherwise lengthy injury history. That matters, but it could also potentially drive down his NFL free agency asking price.
Still, Tartt might not want to settle for the kind of team-friendly deal he sought out a year ago when the market wasn’t overly good for his services. And while the Niners can always hope depth safeties like Talanoa Hufanga and Tavarius Moore can somehow plug the void, there hasn’t exactly been any concrete evidence they have a clear-cut replacement option on the roster.
Should San Francisco not re-sign Tartt this offseason, the 2022 NFL Draft nevertheless provides some potential options spread throughout all three days.
Let’s take a look at four potential prospects who can help fill the void.
49ers Option No. 4: Bryan Cook, Cincinnati
The 49ers will have no chance to land the consensus top safety in this year’s class, Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton, who could easily be a top-10 pick. And with the Niners’ pressing needs elsewhere, they might have to wait until day three of the draft anyway.
If so, one player they can hope will fall a bit is Cincinnati safety Bryan Cook, who shone nicely in 2021 with two interceptions, 96 total tackles, five of which were for a loss, and two interceptions.
At 6-foot-1 and 208 pounds, it’s Cook’s physicality, speed and football IQ that should entice a team like San Francisco, as Bleacher Report explained here:
"— Smart player who plays with very good overall awareness and vision. Shows anticipation and quick reaction to get a good jump on the balls thrown. — Good athletic ability and speed to run in coverage. Has the top-end speed to run with most receivers, along with recovery speed to get back in phase. — Physical player who throws his body around. Delivers a blow on contact and sticks ball carriers for limited extra yards."
Cook isn’t a big playmaker, though, so he loses to Hufanga in that regard. Unlike Hufanga, however, Cook has the speed necessary to play deep and not always towards the line of scrimmage.
Probably a Round 4 selection, Cook might be on the 49ers’ radar.