Tartt ready for his second shot as 49ers starter

Tartt ready for his second shot as 49ers starter

Safety Jaquiski Tartt started eight games as a rookie, but returned to a backup and specialty role in the 49ers’ sub packages this season.

But Eric Reid’s season-ending torn biceps has once again opened the door for Tartt, a second-round pick from Samford in 2015, to finish the season as an every-down player. Tartt became a starter last year when Antoine Bethea sustained a season-ending injury.

“Last year I got to play with E-Reid and that was a good opportunity to pick his brain a little bit,” Tartt said. “This year, I have AB, so I get to pick his brain.”

Tartt’s first start as a 49ers base safety will take place Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, as he will be entrusted to limit running back Jay Ajayi and defend against quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The 49ers' two safety positions are interchangeable, so Tartt said there will be no transition to learning a new position.

“He’s got great range and ball skills,” 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said. “He’s got a knack for reading the quarterback. He’s played a lot of football for us this year and he filled in and did a great job last year when Antoine Bethea went out.”

Tartt had a strong game last week against the New England Patriots. His main assignment was to cover tight end Martellus Bennett, who ended up with one catch for 14 yards.

“How many ever snaps we played, I was usually on him,” Tartt said. “I think he caught one ball, but that was on E-Reid.”

Said O’Neil, “He’s obviously a physical guy that you can get down in the run game and make plays in the box. He’s had some really nice blitzes for us this year. . . He’s got a great NFL skillset.”

Tartt has seen significant action in every game in which he has played this season. He missed the 49ers’ game at Buffalo in Week 5 due to a quadriceps strain.

“He’s played a ton of football for us,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said. “So, yeah, he’s ready to go.”

And Tartt said he feels a lot more comfortable in his second season than when a year ago when his number was called.

“Going through last year, my rookie season, it kind of prepared me for this year,” Tartt said. “I always have that mindset of just preparing as if starting. I’ve been doing that since Week 1, since the season started, so it’s no big deal.”

When asked where he expected to be better, Tartt answered, “In every phase of the game, just my overall awareness and seeing plays better, reacting faster to the ball.”

49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks


49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks

The 49ers hosted two veteran cornerbacks on free-agent visits the past two days and could be signing either Jaylen Watkins or LaDarius Gunter as they wind down their activity on the free-agent market.

“We’re really pleased with what we’ve done,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday. “I’ll never say never. We’ve had a couple of guys visit in the last couple of days. Perhaps we’ll do something there. But for the most part, we’re wrapped up and pleased with what we’ve been able to do.”

The 49ers do not have much depth behind presumptive starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. The team is also likely to add to its depth in the draft.

The 49ers met with Gunter (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) on Thursday. Gunter, 25, started 15 games for the Green Bay Packers in 2016. He recorded 54 tackles and broke up 12 passes. He signed with the Packers in 2015 as an undrafted rookie from Miami.

Gunter was waived at the beginning of last season and the Carolina Panthers claimed him. He appeared in just four games with Carolina, which did not tender him as a restricted free agent.

The 49ers on Wednesday met with Watkins, 26, a versatile defensive back who appeared in 36 games with five starts in four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Watkins (5-11, 195) played three snaps on defense and 17 plays on special teams in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. He entered the NFL in 2014 as a fourth-round draft pick from Florida.

Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'


Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'

STANFORD – Free-agent safety Eric Reid chatted with 49ers general manager John Lynch on the sideline, then moved into position onto the field for an up-close view of his brother’s pro day workout Thursday at Stanford University.

Younger brother, Justin, is aiming to be a first-round draft pick like Eric, whom the 49ers selected with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Both football futures of the Reid brothers remain uncertain. Justin's fate will be determined on draft day. Eric Reid remains in limbo as an NFL free agent. He has not gotten any action in the first week of free agency, and the 49ers have not made him a contract offer, he said.

But Lynch said the 49ers are closely monitoring Reid’s situation. However, the organization already has three safeties they like: Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert.

“Eric played and played well for us last year,” Lynch said. “I think he’s stuck in a safety market that’s been quiet. And I would anticipate things starting to shake for him and we’ll see.

“I’d never say never. I really do think opportunities will start to come his way. We’ve been monitoring it closely and we’ll see how that shakes out.”

Reid, 26, a six-year NFL veteran, said his agent has spoken recently to “a couple of teams,” but no contracts or visits have been proposed.

Reid’s market might be impacted by his up-front role in the protests of racial inequality of the past two seasons. Reid and Colin Kaepernick were the first players to take a knee during the national anthem at the beginning of the 2016 season.

Reid said he would probably not take part in any future protests during the national anthem.

“From the beginning, Colin has been flexible,” Reid said. “He started by sitting. He changed it up. We decided to kneel. And we understand that you got to change with the times. So I’m not saying I’m going to stop being active, because I won’t. I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country to improve on.

“I don’t think it’ll be in the form of protesting during the anthem. And I said ‘during’ because it’s crazy to me that the narrative got changed to we were protesting the anthem, because that wasn’t the case. But I think we’re going to take a different approach to how to be active.”

Reid said he has no regrets. He said he is willing to deal with the consequences of how NFL teams viewed his role in the protests.

“I stand by what I’ve done,” Reid said. “I know why I’ve done it. My faith in God is the reason. I can go to sleep at night confident I did what I was called to do. I’m just gong to stay positive and keep trying to stay in shape and wait and see what happens.

“I said at the end of last season I’m OK no matter what happens.”