SANTA CLARA -- Jaquiski Tartt sustained a broken forearm, a shoulder injury and fractured ribs that forced him out of 19 games over a three-year period before last season.
But none of those injuries compare to the toe condition that forced him out of the 49ers’ Week 9 game last season against the Green Bay Packers.
Tartt, 29, finally got well enough to return to practice last week. He suited up Sunday and played 29 snaps against the Las Vegas Raiders in the 49ers’ final exhibition game of the summer. He also had one play on special teams. He registered five tackles on the day.
“This has been the toughest injury I’ve ever had to overcome,” Tartt said following the 49ers’ tuneup game at Levi’s Stadium. “Initially, I thought I was going to be back for the start of training camp and had a setback.
“And the setback was pretty much just trying to get flexibility in my toe. It was just being tough on me. But the training staff, everybody got together, got a good plan for me. It was a good plan. And now I'm here.”
Tartt, whose status for the regular season was in question a short time ago, now looks to be the odds-on favorite to open the season as the 49ers’ starting strong safety. Tartt has started every game in which he appeared for the 49ers since the opening of the 2017 season.
“It's tough because with the toe, it’s like they say there’s a certain time you should be back,” he said. “But just dealing with the toe at a certain point, I guess, it will just gain flexibility when it chooses to.”
The term “turf toe,” which is the term to describe a hyperextended toe almost minimizes the severity of the injury. The injury ended the careers as such NFL greats as Patrick Willis and Deion Sanders.
“You can't do anything without that big toe,” Tartt said.
Jimmie Ward is locked in as the starter at free safety, and now Tartt is making his late push for the strong safety spot.
Before Tartt’s return, rookie Talanoa Hufanga was in a good competition with veterans Tavon Wilson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix for the only up-for-grabs starting spot on the team.