49ers NFL Draft: 4 college prospects who could replace Jaquiski Tartt

San Francisco 49ers strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (3) Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (3) Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kerby Joseph, Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Kerby Joseph (25) Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports /

Kerby Joseph. 3. player. 807. . Safety. Fighting Illini

49ers Option No. 3: Kerby Joseph, Illinois

If you’ve read a lot of Niner Noise lately ahead of NFL Draft season, you’ll know we’ve already targeted Illinois safety Kerby Joseph as a likable option to replace Jaquiski Tartt, doing so in our post-Super Bowl mock draft.

Not shying away from that at all here, as Joseph was a playmaking force for the Fighting Illini last season, coming away with five interceptions, two fumble recoveries and 57 total tackles.

This gives Joseph, who has a wingspan of nearly 80 inches, a sizable edge over Bryan Cook, and his Pro Football Network scouting report highlights why Joseph could easily be a draft riser leading up to April:

"As is often the case with game-changing prospects, their athletic traits are what set them apart. Joseph’s physical profile is, in fact, quite enticing. The Illinois safety stands at around 6’1″, 200 pounds. With that frame, he has 33 1/8″ arms. That’s elite length for a defensive back, and it affords him a massive disruption radius at the catch point, as well as impressive leverage as a tackler. Beyond his frame, Joseph is an explosive athlete with long strides. He can accelerate quickly and easily track receivers downfield. When he opens his hips and actively pursues plays, he hits a great second gear. With his explosiveness and speed, Joseph possesses high-end range. The Illinois safety can close in from sideline to sideline and erase space for offensive players. He also closes ground quickly when triggering downhill on ball carriers."

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All this potentially comes at a cost, though, and it’s likely the 49ers would have to use one of their day-two picks to grab him instead of waiting on someone like Cook to fall into Round 4.

Still, the combination of playmaking abilities, ballhawking tendencies and his sheer frame should be more than enticing enough to get the Niners to bite.