SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- A few quick thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers’ second-round draft pick.
The pick: Jaquiski Tartt, defensive back, Samford
My take: Who? Apparently not even 49ers Hall of Famer Charles Haley knew who Tartt was in attempting to pronounce his first name while announcing the pick in Chicago. Yes, defensive back is a need for the Niners in general, but the need in particular is at cornerback, and the 6-foot-1, 228-pound Tartt, who ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at the combine, is more a safety who covers the slot, or the post. But the 49ers seem set at safety with Eric Reid at free and team MVP Antoine Bethea at strong. Seems strange to take a relative unknown with a second-round pick, even if he impressed Niners brass on a visit to Santa Clara, California.
The next two picks: The Niners might have bigger needs at cornerback and inside linebacker, and guess who was drafted with the two picks immediately following the Niners’ second-round selection? Utah cornerback Eric Rowe, who was ranked among ESPN NFL Draft Insider Mel Kiper Jr.’s remaining top 10 players entering Friday, and Miami inside linebacker Denzel Perryman. Plus, the Niners’ top pick of a year ago, Jimmie Ward, plays essentially the same position. “I want to make my name on special teams and learn as much as I can from Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid,” Tartt said.
Speaking of Ward: Tartt said he is best friends with Ward, the two having known each other since ninth grade at Davidson High School in Mobile, Alabama. Now they are competing for the same position. Tartt said Ward, who played at Northern Illinois, used to tell Tartt he could play in the NFL, too. Tartt had 62 tackles for Samford last year, with an interception and a pass breakup. “They honestly didn’t throw it my way,” Tartt said. Like Ward, whose rookie NFL season ended after eight games with a broken foot, Tartt has dealt with injuries. A torn right shoulder labrum slowed him as a junior and a tweaked ankle suffered at the Senior Bowl limited him at the combine. He expected to be selected in the third or fourth round and is the highest-drafted player in Samford history.