Among the handful of 49ers Day 3 draft prospects, Talonoa Hufanga stands out as a steal as the Troy Polamalu-trained safety slipped to the fifth round.
Well, another NFL Draft is in the books, and San Francisco 49ers fans should be very happy about the draft haul the team was going to get in 2021
While quarterback Trey Lance is obviously the shiny centerpiece of the draft class, as the future franchise quarterback (we hope), the real key to a championship team is to hit those day-three draft picks on Saturday.
One of those picks, safety Talanoa Hufanga, looks like he could be potentially a large steal due to his play and production from USC.
A safety out of USC? The Troy Polamalu vibes aren’t just in the little coincidences. Polamalu helped train Hufanga in the leadup to the draft, and it’s impossible not to see the similarities in the two. Despite having only six games in the 2020 season, Hufanga crammed in a ton of production for the Trojans with four interceptions and three sacks in those six games alone.
What Hufanga brings is a player who plays the strong safety role yet can defend the run and make plays on the ball when given the chance. He plays well in a cover scheme, like what the 49ers use but can get a bit lost in man coverage, and his speed has been questioned for the pros.
But by landing with the 49ers, Hufanga finds himself in the perfect scheme that can cover his weaknesses and highlight his strengths. The Niners possess strong pass-rushers who can help the secondary out, and Hufanga can play to what he knows in the zone.
Hufanga isn’t going to start overnight. He’ll need to work to develop on some of his weaknesses and to learn the nuances of San Francisco’s defensive scheme.
But similar to Lance, if the team is willing to exercise patience to bring out the best in him, then it may just find yet another steal in the fifth round to go with the likes of tight end George Kittle and linebacker Dre Greenlaw.
That’s why Hufanga may very well be the pick who could turn out to be the steal of the 2021 draft class for the 49ers.