Rumor suggests 49ers might push fan-favorite All-Pro out of starting job

The Niners aren't thinking about bumping Talanoa Hufanga from his starting gig, right?


San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga (29)
San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga (29) / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

A reliable NFL insider suggests the 49ers are considering removing Talanoa Hufanga from his starting job in 2024.

The San Francisco 49ers have had plenty of players arise from the late rounds of the NFL Draft who somehow turn into superstars, tight end George Kittle (Round 5) and quarterback Brock Purdy (Round 7) perhaps are the two best examples over the years.

While nowhere near as famous as those two, safety Talanoa Hufanga was a fifth-round draft pick who turned into a fan-favorite and an All-Pro within his first two seasons after joining the Niners in 2021.

Known for making high-impact plays during that All-Pro 2022 campaign, one can only wonder how things would have gone if he didn't suffer a torn ACL 10 games into 2023.

Yet Hufanga did suffer that injury, which casts a shadow upon whether or not he'll be fully recovered in time for the 2024 season.

And, according to a recent report, it might potentially impact his starting job, too.

Could Talanoa Hufanga lose his starting job? This 49ers rumor says it's possible

Mike Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle is pretty well-connected to the 49ers and has reported on some notable elements that have been revealed to be true even though the popularity of his reports weren't particularly popular.

Late last week, he reported that Hufanga isn't guaranteed his starting strong safety job once healthy enough to return from last season's ACL tear:

"Safety Talanoa Hufanga, a 24-year-old who earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2022, is coming off a torn ACL and isn’t assured of reclaiming his starting job. ...

With the safety market somewhat oversaturated, the Niners might be able to land a big name such as Justin Simmons (four times a second-team All-Pro during his Denver career) or a less decorated player such as the Commanders’ Kam Curl or the Colts’ Julian Blackmon."

Silver tosses names like Simmons as possibilities but doesn't necessarily link them to the Niners.

Now, does this automatically mean San Francisco is actively seeking an upgrade over Hufanga and is eager to move on from him?

Not necessarily.

The 49ers are very much in tune with Hufanga's recovery process, and it's possible they are guarding against the potential he won't be available by Week 1. For a team that's ready to win a Super Bowl now and has only a second-year pro and a special teams backup under contract for 2024, Ji'Ayir Brown and George Odum, respectively, getting an experienced and high-profile name into the mix could be what the Niners want to do in an all-in kind of season.

It'd be a tough break for Hufanga, as he enters a contract year in 2024 and will be a free agent a year from now.

But, it's a mere suggestion that San Francisco is keeping its options open, and Hufanga's role isn't lost just yet.

It's just not guaranteed.

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