49ers Steal Talanoa Hufanga in Round Five!

2021 NFL draft evaluations: 49ers saw Talanoa Hufanga’s toughness

Matt Zemek (Trojans Wire)  —  Five USC Trojans were drafted in 2021. While Tyler Vaughns might have found a good situation with the Indianapolis Colts, he joined the team as an undrafted free agent.

Among the five draft picks from USC, Talanoa Hufanga found the best situation with the San Francisco 49ers.

We continue our series in which we feature what our NFL Wire partner sites are saying about the USC Trojans who have joined professional ball clubs.

This is what our partners at Niners Wire had to say upon learning that Talanoa Hufanga would become a 49er:

Hufanga did a little bit of everything for the Trojans during his three years there. In 24 games, he racked up 203 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, four interceptions and eight pass breakups.

The 49ers don’t have a ton of depth at safety, nor do they have many long-term options there.

Hufanga doesn’t have the kind of range to play the Jimmie Ward role at free safety, but he has the skills near the line of scrimmage to play strong safety in the 49ers’ defense. He’s an extremely willing tackler who looks like a linebacker at times, but Hufanga is more than capable of playing coverage in short areas in the middle of the field against running backs and tight ends.

He needs a little development, but he has the tools to contribute on special teams right away and projects long-term as a strong safety.

Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers get their players to play with force. This is something Clay Helton has largely failed to cultivate at USC, but if anyone on the Trojans’ 2020 defense DID in fact play with force, it was Hufanga, the man who constantly was in the right place at the right time. His nose for the ball and his feel for the game enabled him to rescue the Trojans several times in the truncated Pac-12 season. The 49ers saw this high football IQ, combined with an appetite for battle, and gained what will likely be viewed as one of the better steals of the 2021 NFL draft.

Trojans Wire

__________

TrojanDailyBlog members  —  Always feel free to add information or topics to the TDB which don’t necessarily pertain to any particular moderator post or member comment.

 

SUBSCRIBE HERE TO RECEIVE NOTICE OF NEW COMMENTS OR REPLIES.
Notify of
28 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
HOF19
Noble Member
HOF19 (@hof19)
May 6, 2021 1:33 pm

My fellow Colts fans are happy that Marvell Tell will be playing for the Colts this year …..I passed on a thought that the undrafted free agent the Colts just signed (WR Tyler Vaughns) can most definitely make the roster ….And the Indy newspapers reporting Colts …..by tomorrow night ….probably have ALL their draft picks signed ….pretty fast work !

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
May 6, 2021 7:22 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

My favorite Amon Ra play was one of the three “miracle plays” that beat ASU last year in the last two minutes of the game. I have never seen a play like that and doubt I ever will again. It is the “tip play”. Amon Ra was in the end zone and double covered. Bru McCoy was about 5 feet away from him, also in the end zone and totally uncovered. Slovis threw the ball to Amon Ra. He jumped up and tipped it with one hand to the wide open Bru, who made the catch. Bru McCoy then recovered… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
May 6, 2021 1:29 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I still cannot believe either the tip (which I think we will never see again) or the on sides kick. Bru never practiced with the on sides team and that kick was never practiced. But both happened. The season would have turned out totally differently if both those plays had not happened. Go figure.

volunteerTrojan
Active Member
volunteerTrojan (@volunteertrojan)
May 6, 2021 9:32 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

An unforgettable onside kick recovery for sure. To me, one equally memorable was when Ray Maualuga snagged one on a hop and ran down the sideline for a TD against Notre Dame.

LawyerJohn
Knighted Member
LawyerJohn (@lawyerjohn)
May 4, 2021 7:52 pm

Hufanga is an excellent case in point why it is ridiculous for these kids to believe they are going to make the big bucks in the NFL. The kid looked sensational in SC’s 6-game schedule, drawing enough attention to his spectacular play to garner an All-American award. Aaah, but the NFL knew differently. If an NFL team is going to pay millions to a prospect, it is a matter of assessing the risk. And so our SC boy falls out of the 4th round of 128 prospects and lands in no-man’s land of the 5th round. Unless you play for… Read more »

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
May 4, 2021 8:28 pm
Reply to  LawyerJohn

If he plays the entire season he will make around 400-500K with signing bonus and rookie deal. How many recent grads would trade places?

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
May 4, 2021 8:48 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

allen, I totally agree. If he’s healthy, he’s going to be good and will stay on the field. He will just go out and make plays.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
May 6, 2021 7:37 am
Reply to  LawyerJohn

John, I do not get your point. Let’s take SC. Griffin was a five star CB and left early (and did not get his degree). He was undrafted. This choice is on the kid, not SC. Turns out, his dad is a multi-millionaire, so his bad decision really does not matter as he can return to SC without a scholarship and still get his degree (assuming Dad will pay the freight). My kids played sports at SC and all athletes are required to attend class, required to attend study halls, and have free tutors to help with classes. They also… Read more »

RialtoTrojan
Noble Member
RialtoTrojan (@rialtotrojan)
May 6, 2021 9:02 am
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

About leaving for the draft early being on the kid, I might agree if Football doesn’t carry academic credit. If USC hires the most respected and highly regarded professors in their field, they are missing the boat with the their football professor. So a kid who gets bad schooling in football is no worse than a kid who gets bat training in engineering. Imagine flying a jet designed by Clay Helton’s engineering class. (hopefully pulling a banner asking that he be fired)

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
May 6, 2021 9:12 am
Reply to  RialtoTrojan

Rialto, Great point. I may well have misread John’s point (and if I did, I apologize). If Clay Helton were a math teacher (his major in college), he would be at best a mediocre high school math teacher. Using Math as an analogy, SC football is comparable to MIT math. Having Clay as the HC of SC football is a bit like having a mediocre (at best) high school math teacher be the head of MIT’s math department. Assuming that was John’s point, I totally agree.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
May 6, 2021 1:21 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Allen, On that issue, I agree. But, the football players are in a different type of “life preparation.” Look at Adoree – he was able to make more in ten years of his career than I made in my entire law career. I went to law school to get a job as a lawyer. The football ball players are at SC for a shot at a job in the NFL. Where do they get a better preparation for a job in that line of work? At SC under Clay or at AL under Saban? Rialto correctly pointed out to me… Read more »

danielmcd1
Noble Member
danielmcd1 (@danielmcd1)
May 4, 2021 3:17 pm

Hufanga is a steal in the 5th round. I am glad he is going to play for a contending 49ers team in the west. I think he will excel in the 49ers defense and fly around and make tackles. I am glad for him and the 49ers as well.

TommyTrojan
Active Member
TommyTrojan (@tommytrojan)
May 4, 2021 5:03 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I think his biggest weakness that even Trojan fans can complain about is his ability to stay healthy. His prior injuries are definitely a concern at the next level. Porter Gustin also had this problem.

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
May 4, 2021 2:10 pm

If he doesn’t contribute in really big ways, I’d be shocked. He’s just a gamer.

RialtoTrojan
Noble Member
RialtoTrojan (@rialtotrojan)
May 4, 2021 12:27 pm

The line that says it all is “this is something Clay Helton has failed…” It pretty much boggles the mind that nobody with the power to change this does anything about it.The way Hufanga played was fun to see. It’s what Trojans fans want to see. I hope someone brings it again this season. I also think voting with our ticket money might have some effect on what the administration does next year.