NFL’s most Overrated and Underrated Players: Talanoa Hufanga
When the 49ers initially selected Talanoa Hufanga with the 180th pick in 2020, the crowd didn’t know very much about him. He was a relatively small gadget player who was grossly misused during his time at USC. This prevented him from becoming the true prospect of his destiny.
A crowded safety room saw him get little to no playing time through his first season, only playing 15 snaps. But when the 49ers decided not to resign Jaquiski Tartt, a spot opened up. A spot that Hufanga took and has since ran away with, showing (for now, at least,) that Niners made the right decision.
Through the first three games of the year, Talanoa Hufanga yielded a 40% completion mark. He yielded a measly 48.7 Quarterback rating when being targeted. He’s also a ball hawk, with 2 interceptions on the season.
However, the explosiveness he brings to this vaunted Niners defense is the true difference-maker for Talanoa Hufanga. The 49ers were desperately trying to avoid the death sentence, (that is a 1-3 start.) They were in a scrap with the Rams, and found themselves up 17-9 with about 6 and a half minutes left. Just when it looked like the Rams were driving and gonna make a game out of this, Hufanga came up huge. He jumped a Cooper Kupp route and took it back 56 yards for a TD. This play essentially served as the nail in the coffin and helped seal a much-needed 24-9 win for his Niners.
While the Niners’ defense as a whole is filled with playmakers, it’s no surprise Hufanga’s emergence has helped the team. They’ve become one of the best defenses in the league. They’ve only given up 37 points through the first 4 games of the season. For a Niners team that has lost the likes of Trent Williams and Trey Lance, the emergence of Hufanga and this defense has been a sigh of relief.
While it’s still very early in Talanoa Hufanga’s career, it’s clear that through this season, he’s been one of the best safeties in the league. I’m sure it won’t take long before he gets the recognition he deserves.
And Talanoa Hufanga and this Niner defense will get to continue to show their dominance. They prepare to face a Panthers team that has boasted one of the worst offenses in the league so far this season.
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