Insider Reveals the 49ers’ Current Favorite to Replace Jaquiski Tartt

Jaquiski Tartt

Getty Jaquiski Tartt before a September 26, 2021 home game with the 49ers.

So who replaces Jaquiski Tartt in the San Francisco 49ers secondary moving forward?

Will the 49ers have to dive into free agency to find their replacement for the veteran defender? Or is there a replacement on the roster already lined up?

One man who’s around the 49ers shared the early answer on who is the leader for the spot that Tartt vacates.

ALL the latest 49ers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on 49ers newsletter here!

Join Heavy on 49ers!

The Current Favorite

The Athletic’s David Lombardi revealed who has the current lead in taking the reins from Tartt.

“How are they going to do it? Well, Talanoa Hufanga, the second-year man out of USC is currently the favorite to Jaquiski Tartt,” Lombardi said on his You Tube channel.

The 22-year-old started in three games with injuries decimating the lineup and saw action in 15 total games. But with Tartt not around the Santa Clara facility as he was seeking a new NFL home via free agency, Hufanga was already the leader in first team reps at Tartt’s old spot.

“Hufanga was the starting strong safety according to OTAs. He was taking all the first team reps there alongside Jimmie Ward,” Lombardi revealed. “Tarvarius Ward and George Odum are the two reserves.”

Where the Defenders Not Named Hufanga Stand

Hufanga is labeled the projected No. 1 and has already been in the defensive huddle with names like Fred Warner, Jimmie Ward, Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead during June OTAs. He’s also taken the bulk of the reps over the next top option to fill Tartt’s shoes: Free agent signing George Odum from Indianapolis.

“Hufanga has the inside track and had the inside track early over Odum who played for the Colts last season,” Lombardi said.

Hufanga also has the upper hand over another veteran option in Tarvarius Moore, who’s attempting to come back from an Achilles tear from 2021.

Between the two, Moore has experience in the 49ers’ scheme. However, Lombardi says Odum is a fit for DeMeco Ryans and the scheme he runs — because he brings some Tartt-like tackling traits.

“Now, Odum is a good, good option. He didn’t miss a single tackle in the box last season with the Colts. And when you talk about Jaquiski Tartt and his ability to dance through traffic, make those stops against the run within the context of the 49ers’ scheme, it’s obviously a good trait for Odum,” Lombardi said.

Moore, before his injury, was described by the 49ers insider as a versatile former cornerback and “a turf eating” safety best known for delivering hard hits versus the New England Patriots.

Lombardi also mentioned two other safeties vying for the spot: Leon O’Neal of Texas A&M and Tayler Hawkins from San Diego State — both of whom have played some cornerback as well.

Regarding the Ex-Aggie who went undrafted in the 2022 draft, Lombardi said “I know he’s a fan favorite when wearing No. 14 out there.” But for him and the Aztecs star Hawkins to earn their spot, “they’re going to have to show that type of versatility.”

While the USC Trojan is considered the proverbial favorite, Lombardi adds that things could alter.

“Training camp might see the pecking order change, or at least give guys like Odum and Moore a chance,” Lombardi said. “But in all likelihood, the 49ers will continue to like Talanoa Hufanga’s instinctiveness. He’s a very instinctive player — enough to play that box safety role.”

Regardless, the 49ers, per Lombardi, sound like they won’t need to dive into free agency to fill Tartt’s spot.

“The bottom line is: The 49ers have determined that they’re comfortable moving forward with these guys,” Lombardi said.

Read More