49ers NFL Draft: Grading rookie class halfway through 2021

Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Talanoa Hufanga, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga (29) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers Round 5 Pick: Safety Talanoa Hufanga

Like Deommodore Lenoir, safety Talanoa Hufanga has shown flashes of being a quality starter, but the former USC product has also revealed why San Francisco isn’t quite ready to crown him starting-caliber material just yet.

Unlike Lenoir, though, the 49ers didn’t have any choice but to start Hufanga in Week 8 after losing starting strong safety Jaquiski Tartt to a knee injury, subsequently landing him on injured reserve.

Up until that point, Hufanga had strictly been a special teams contributor. And in that department, he looked more than solid enough. Even when he managed to get in on defense, there were those impact plays where he looked to be yet another gem of a find.

At the same time, though, Hufanga’s defensive efforts in Week 9 against the Cardinals left a lot to be desired, with him surrendering catches on all three targets for 50 yards.

Still, there’s a lot yet to like about the tenacity Hufanga brings to the table, which is an element the Niners defense has largely lacked this season.

If Tartt stays out for a lengthy period of time, the second half should prove to be just how big a gem San Francisco identified.

Grade: B-