49ers roster: 4 young players who give San Francisco hope for future

Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Talanoa Hufanga, San Francisco 49ers
Talanoa Hufanga, San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The 49ers have a strong lineup of young players hungry to elevate San Francisco into contenders once again.

Amidst the darkness of a four-game losing streak, a sky-high pile of injuries, questionable coaching choices, and a steep hill to climb on the road to playoff contention, there aren’t many sources of excitement for the San Francisco 49ers.

Though the season is far from doomed, it doesn’t hurt to shift a little focus to the future in the name of finding some flicker of hope for the Niners.

It goes without saying that this team is full of young talent. The past few drafts have yielded the talents of EDGE Nick Bosa, wide receiver Deebo Samuel, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, and quarterback Trey Lance to name a few. The plummet in these teams’ success over the last year has nothing to do with draft busts or unreached potential.

If there is any optimism to be found in having such a banged-up roster, it’s that some of these young players have had more opportunities to prove their worth and make an early impact on the field.

With so many young players who have game-changing potential, here are some players under 24 years old whom the 49ers can rely on to carry this team to championship level in the coming years.

4 four players are on the way to building a better future for 49ers

4. 49ers Safety Talanoa Hufanga

Rookie safety Talanoa Hufanga was drafted No. 180 overall in 2021 after a prosperous career at USC. The 21 year-old boasted a team lead in tackles, forced fumbles, and interceptions his junior year at USC before joining the Niners roster. Given the state of San Francisco’s secondary, many expected him to steal a starting spot in Week 1 after proving his ability to play at the NFL in the preseason.

Though he didn’t end up starting his first game as a 49er, Hufanga has seen success with a steadily increasing snap count. He’s been eased into action on special teams with 124 snaps. On the defensive side of the ball, Hufanga has 64 total snaps and continues to impress with his tackling ability and awareness in pass coverage.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan had praise for the rookie following Week 7’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts, saying “Huf’s been doing a great job all year with the opportunities he’s gotten… I expect him to really help us out here going forward.”

Now with Jaquiski Tartt missing multiple games due to a knee injury, Hufanga has a chance to take over a starting safety role at a pivotal time for the 49ers.

The Chicago Bears are a great team for the young player to make his first NFL start against. They have one of the worst passing offenses in the league and plenty of holes for Hufanga to exploit and gain confidence to propel him forward. The way Chicago has been struggling with turnovers, it could be the perfect opportunity for him to get his hands on the ball and make a name for himself at a time when San Francisco needs players to step up.

Such a young player already making an impact and capitalizing on all his chances is the type of boost the 49ers need.

Even if they can’t claw into a playoff spot this year, the development of Hufanga has to be exciting when San Francisco has struggled to effectively fill that safety spot for years.