Jaquiski Tartt is a five-year NFL veteran, but for a few moments this offseason he was transported back to his days as an under-the-radar small-college prospect at Samford University.
Tartt was with family and friends in Florida when his cousin noticed Tartt had an incoming call from a 49ers teammate.
“It’s Richard Sherman,” his cousin told Tartt.
“So I was like, ‘Yeah, it is Richard Sherman,’” Tartt said on video call with Bay Area reporters. “So I had a little fan moment then.”
The call came during a time when a segment of 49ers fans on social media were calling for the team to acquire Jamal Adams in a trade with the New York Jets. There was no indication at the the 49ers were interested, and general manager John Lynch later revealed they were not.
“He was just trying to see what I was up to,” Tartt said of Sherman. “It had nothing to do with that (Adams). But for me, it was a moment. I remember me thinking about being in college and watching Sherm in the Super Bowl and stuff like that.”
Tartt said he never seriously considered the possibility that Adams could replace him in the 49ers' secondary.
“It’s quarantine and the media need some kind of attention, so I don’t worry about that,” he said. “It’s just social media.”
Five weeks later, Adams ended up in the NFC West with the Seattle Seahawks in a blockbuster trade that involved the Seahawks parting ways with two first-round draft picks. It was important for Seattle to acquire Adams, in part, to deal with 49ers tight end George Kittle.
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Meanwhile, Tartt goes about getting ready for his contract year. He said his main focus during the offseason was on getting healthy. Tartt missed the final four regular-season games after sustaining fractured ribs from taking an inadvertent knee to his right side from Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram.
Tartt returned to play in each of the 49ers’ three postseason games, including Super Bowl LIV. He registered five tackles and a sack in the 49ers’ 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“To be honest, I don’t even know how I was out there,” he said. “I knew my team needed me, so I made sure I was able to play and be ready. It’s football. It’s part of football, being injured, and some things stop you from playing. I’ve been through that injury before, like in 2017, it’s something you can play through.”
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The 49ers rewarded fellow safety and his high-school teammate, Jimmie Ward, with a three-year, $28.5 million contract in the offseason. Together, as the last lines of defense, Tartt and Ward held things together last season. No team in the NFL surrendered fewer pass plays of 20 yards or more.
“This defense has a lot of good players, and we play as a team,” Tartt said. “So for us, it’s just trying to stay on the little things.”