49ers NFL Draft grades: Day 3 reinforcements net good results

Talanoa Hufanga #15 of the USC Trojans (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Talanoa Hufanga #15 of the USC Trojans (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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Talanoa Hufanga, USC Trojans
Southern California Trojans safety Talanoa Hufanga (15) Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Round 5, Pick No. 180 Overall: 49ers selection of S Talanoa Hufanga

Of all the Niners’ day-three selections during the 2021 draft, USC’s Talanoa Hufanga probably generates the most interest.

If anything, at least for his introductory press conference. That should get fans hyped up for this 6-foot, 199-pound defensive back alone:

Talanoa Hufanga Press Conference

"You're grateful for these opportunities."USC Trojans Safety Talanoa Hufanga met with the media to share his excitement and what he brings to the 49ers.

Posted by San Francisco 49ers on Saturday, May 1, 2021

USC’s 2020 season was abbreviated because of COVID-19 to just six games, yet Hufanga sure impressed during that brief span, registering 40 tackles and four interceptions. What fans will like about him is his hard-hitting, physical mentality. When he was on the field for the Trojans, everyone noticed.

While Hufanga projects as an in-the-box safety, his coverage skills make him a bit more versatile for more Cover 2 options rather than solely being a run-stopping defensive back. He might not have elite-level speed, but he’s flexible and reactive enough in zone coverage to make up for it.

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And considering many draft boards pegged Hufanga as a possible Round 4 addition, San Francisco gets some good value here.

There’s also a need, too, with oft-injured starting strong safety Jaquiski Tartt back solely on a one-year deal and his backups, Tarvarius Moore and Marcell Harris, not quite showing they can take over as full-time replacements.

Of all the 49ers’ day-three additions, Hufanga might be the one with the most upside.