Saturday, June 25, 2022

Insider reveals the 49ers’ current favorite to replace Jaquiski Tartt

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Who Will Replace Jaquiski Tartt in the San Francisco 49ers’ Secondary?

Will the 49ers have to dip into free hand to find their replacement for the veteran defenseman? Or is there already a replacement on the list?

A man who is with the 49ers shared the early response to who is the leader for the spot Tartt is vacating.

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

“How are you going to do that? Well, USC’s sophomore Talanoa Hufanga is currently the Jaquiski Tartt favorite,” Lombardi said on his YouTube channel.

The 22-year-old started three games with injuries that decimated the line-up and saw action in 15 games overall. But since Tartt was nowhere near the Santa Clara facility as he was scouting for a new NFL home through a free agency, Hufanga was already the leader of the first team reps in Tartt’s old spot.

“Hufanga was the first strong security according to OTAs. He brought all the first team representatives there along with Jimmie Ward,” revealed Lombardi. “Tarvarius Ward and George Odum are the two reserves.”

Dubbed the projected #1, Hufanga was already on the defensive during June’s OTAs with the likes of Fred Warner, Jimmie Ward, Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead. He’s also brought the bulk of the reps over to the next top option to fill Tartt’s shoes: free agent signing George Odum from Indianapolis.

“Hufanga has the inside lane and early on had the inside lane 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 is trying to bounce back from a 2021 Achilles Rift.

Between the two, Moore has experience in the 49ers’ scheme. However, Lombardi says Odum fits DeMeco Ryans and the program he runs – because he brings some Tartt-like tackling qualities.

“Now Odum is a good, good option. He never missed a tackle in the box with the Colts last season. And if you’re talking about Jaquiski Tartt and his ability to dance through traffic, making those stops against the run as part of the 49ers program, that’s obviously a good trait for Odum,” Lombardi said.

Moore was described by the 49ers insider prior to his injury as a versatile former cornerback and “turf-eating” safety best known for hitting hard against the New England Patriots.

Lombardi also mentioned two other safes vying for the spot: Texas A&M’s Leon O’Neal and San Diego State’s Tayler Hawkins — both of whom have also played a few cornerbacks.

Referring to the ex-Aggie not being called up in the 2022 draft, Lombardi said, “I know if he wears the No. 14 out there, he’s a fan favorite.” But so does he and Aztec star Hawkins to earn their spot, “they have to show that kind of versatility.”

While the USC Trojan is a proverbial favorite, Lombardi adds things could change.

“The pecking order could change in training camp or at least give the likes of Odum and Moore a chance,” Lombardi said. “But in all likelihood, the 49ers will continue to like Talanoa Hufanga’s instincts. He’s a very instinctive player – enough to play that boxing safety role.”

Regardless, Lombardi says the 49ers sound like they don’t need to dip into the free hand to fill Tartt’s spot.

“The bottom line is, the 49ers have found that these guys are comfortable with them,” Lombardi said.

Lombardi also mentioned two other safes vying for the spot: Texas A&M’s Leon O’Neal and San Diego State’s Tayler Hawkins — both of whom have also played a few cornerbacks.

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