Jaquiski Tartt laid the foundation for a promising NFL career following a productive rookie season for the San Francisco 49ers.
The team's second-round pick in 2015 saw playing time as soon as Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings and even recorded his first career sack. By Week 8, a season-ending shoulder injury to Antoine Bethea insterted Tartt into a starting role at strong safety.
In 15 games and eight starts, Tartt totaled 64 tackles, two sacks, one interception and one forced fumble.
Following his rookie campaign, the safety stuck around the Bay Area through all of the Super Bowl 50 festivities before returning home to Mobile, Ala. Tartt carried motivation to improve his game during the offseason. The Samford product didn't have to train for another NFL Scouting Combine. Instead, he was able to sharpen his focus and prepare for his second season of professional football.
"It was no pressure at all," Tartt told 49ers.com. "I just knew I had to work hard and get better."
Tartt did most of his training 59 miles from his hometown in Pensacola, Fla. The 6-foot-1 defensive back worked out at EXOS Athletes' Performance Institute alongside 49ers teammate and fellow Mobile native Jimmie Ward.
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones, Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon and New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins were among other NFL players training at EXOS. Each player had their own specific focus.
For Tartt, it was footwork.
The goal was to become more efficient in his movements, reducing steps taken and gaining explosiveness in and out of breaks. Tartt said his workouts were designed to help him in man-to-man coverage as well as improve his closing speed.
"When I backpedal, I get too high sometimes which makes me take too many steps to get to the ball-carrier," Tartt explained. "The better my footwork is, the less steps it will take to get to the ball.
"Football is a game of inches. Sometimes bad footwork will get you in trouble. If you've got good footwork, it will get you in a better position."
Tartt admitted that he's his own harshest critic. When discussing his top plays as a rookie – most notably a Week 14 interception of former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel – Tartt focused on wanting to create more highlights in 2016.
"I want to be consistent," Tartt said. "I did well a few games as a rookie, but this year, I want to play well in every game."