SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Jacquiski Tartt was as surprised as everyone else watching the NFL Draft.
The thumping safety was selected by the 49ers with their pick in the second round, becoming just the third safety off the board. At 46 overall, Tartt becomes the highest selected player out of Samford in draft history.
"I was honestly expecting third or fourth round maybe," Tartt said. "I'm just thankful they drafted me in the second round."
Tartt (6-1, 221), a physical and hard-hitting safety, joins a 49ers defense that already has Pro Bowlers Antoine Bethea, who turns 31 in July, and standout third-year player Eric Reid. Reid sustained three concussions in his first 16 months in the NFL.
You can find a full scouting report of Tartt here.
Tartt will play alongside one of his best friends in 2014's first-round draft pick Jimmie Ward, who also has safety in his background, but was used as a nickel corner in his first year with the 49ers. The two went to Davidson High School in Alabama together and remained close, despite Ward going to Northern Illinois 738 miles away.
"We talked about this day - it would be crazy if me and him got on the same team. It’s crazy," said Tartt.
Tartt (first name pronounced Juh-QUAH-skee) said the two shared banter back and fourth on Saturdays, challenging each other to keep piling up tackles and interceptions. Now they will be able to do it more consistently as teammates. "That’s going to make us better," Tartt said.
In 2014, Tartt played in 11 games and was named to the FCS All-American team, playing most of the season with an ankle injury. After an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, where he notched three tackles, including a tackle for loss, Tartt ran a 4.53 forty at February's scouting combine. Later he posted a 4.47 at his pro day.
"I like to come down and tackle and I can play in the post. I can do either or. It really don’t matter to me," Tartt said. "I see myself playing special teams. First I want to get out on special teams, make my name on special teams, and learn as much as I can from Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid."
Tartt will compete with safeties Craig Dahl and L.J. McCray for playing time this summer before eventually challenging for a starting role, perhaps as early as 2016.