SANTA CLARA — 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt’s versatility could help the secondary as the team struggles through injuries in the final five games.
It’s nearly a repeat of last season where a rash of injuries in the secondary created a need for players to be versatile as well as younger players to step up.
The team is preparing for their Week 13 matchup without Jimmie Ward, who went on injured reserve after breaking his forearm as well as rookie D.J. Reed who sustained a heel injury in the team’s 27-9 loss to the Buccaneers.
Tartt is prepared to play at either safety position going forward.
“It’s fairly easy to play strong and free in this system,” Tartt said. “So it won’t be a problem. I played free last year when I got hurt.”
Tartt is in disbelief that the team seems to be in the same position it was last year in regards to injuries, but adds that his group is up for the challenge.
“It’s challenging because you have important pieces missing,” Tartt said. “But at same time, everybody here can play and the expectations are still high. You’re expected to perform at a high level.”
Coach Kyle Shanahan says that there is a possibility of moving Tartt around. Antone Exum Jr. is another candidate that could see a positional change and rookie Marcell Harris who could see more playing time.
“Yeah, there’s always the possibility,” Shanahan said. “I think based on where Harris is at, Tartt can play both. He’s here to be a strong safety and Exum has done it. Exum is a free safety, but we’ve had things come up in games where he’s had to go to strong, too.
“We have guys who are interchangeable so all of it is an option. We’ll see how those guys look this week.”
Tartt played most of the defensive snaps in Tampa after sitting out of Weeks 9 and 10 with a shoulder injury. He registered three solo tackles, three combined and one tackle for a loss.
Prior to his injury, Tartt’s productivity was on the rise. Both he and Fred Warner topped the defense with nine total tackles in Week 6 against the Packers. His six solo tackles facing the Rams in Week 7 also was the team high.