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Eric Mangini Confident in Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward

Two topics dominated Eric Mangini's press conference on Thursday.

The first was the continued discussion about what to expect from Jaquiski Tartt as he appears to be replacing Antoine Bethea in the San Francisco 49ers starting lineup.

The 49ers defensive coordinator was also asked about the Rams impressive rookie running back, Todd Gurley.

Starting with San Francisco's 2015 second-round pick, Tartt has appeared in all seven games this season, recording 17 tackles and one sack.

Mangini had nothing but good things to say about Tartt's transition to the NFL from Samford University.

"You've been able to see Jaquiski back there some," Mangini said. "You see what he brings in terms of his ability to close on the football and get to the ball carrier. He has strength in the hole. All of those things have been good."

Now Tartt will likely assume a lion's share of Bethea's reps at strong safety after the veteran was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve.

San Francisco's Week 8 road contest against the St. Louis Rams could mark the rookie's first-career start.

"The biggest challenge for a young safety is feeling comfortable enough to take charge back there," Mangini said. "He's been good, in loud situations, at communicating. He knows what he's doing, and I'm excited to see him play."

Mangini recalled that Tartt was one of the last safety prospects that the coach looked at going into the draft. Unlike most players at the position, the Samford product stood out numerous times while Mangini watched the game tape. The coach told the media there was a "fluidness" to Tartt's game that was very impressive.

Tartt and his former high school teammate Jimmie Ward will both see plenty playing time on Sunday. Tartt could split time between safety and dime linebacker while Ward sees the field at nickel corner and safety.

Ward's signature moment of the season came in Week 4 when he shadowed Green Bay Packers wideout Randall Cobb. Thanks in large part to Ward's efforts, the talented slot receiver was held to five receptions for 44 yards.

Mangini has seen plenty of growth in San Francisco's first-round pick in 2014.

"Jimmie isn't a small guy, but he plays bigger than his size," the coach said. "He's aggressive in run support. Very rarely do you see him take the brunt of contact. So he plays with a good base. He's explosive. He has good leverage."

As for the line of questioning on Gurley, the running back who Tartt and Ward will have to tackle on Sunday, Mangini offered his views on what has made the Rams runner so successful.

Despite only playing in four games this season, the standout has three 100-yard rushing performances and ranks fourth in the NFL with 442 rushing yards.

"What I like about Todd is patient, he's patient and he runs with a good pad level and he's thick through the hole, he's got a good stiff arm, all those things," Mangini said.

Gurley's rare combination of size, speed and power had him touted as a "once in a generation" running back coming out of Georgia. Those expectations were heaped onto Gurley despite coming off of an ACL tear during his last collegiate season.

Mangini wouldn't go that far, yet, but he's certainly noticed that this year's 10th-overall pick is a talented player.

"Based on his performance, he's done an outstanding job," Mangini said. "Being that he is, those once in a generation ... you'd like to let it sort out over two or three years because there were some pretty amazing backs in the NFL over time, but I think he's outstanding."

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