No. 2: 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga
While Justin Skule and Jauan Jennings aren’t exactly competing for any starting gigs this offseason, second-year safety Talanoa Hufanga certainly is, particularly in the wake of the Niners letting veteran strong safety Jaquiski Tartt stay on the free-agent market.
Hufanga is in a tight competition alongside fellow safeties, such as Tarvarius Moore, George Odum and the rookie, Leon O’Neal Jr., to fill the gap left by Tartt. And while Moore might have been an early favorite to seize the role, Hufanga appears to be taking a few steps ahead.
At least according to this report from Sports Illustrated:
"So far, Hufanga seems like he at least can fill Tartt’s shoes. In front of the media this week in OTAs, Hufanga took all the strong-safety reps with the starters, gave up zero big plays and forced starting quarterback Trey Lance to throw all short and intermediate passes — nothing deep."
A year ago, Hufanga understandably looked lost in coverage despite his occasional knack for coming up with big plays (see the touchdown in the divisional playoff round against the Green Bay Packers).
However, it’s not uncommon for second-year pros, especially defensive backs, to take massive strides forward in their sophomore seasons at the NFL level.
Perhaps Hufanga is on that trajectory.