Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


49ers make USC S Talanoa Hufanga a 5th-round draft pick

May 1, 2021 at 12:33 PM--


The San Francisco 49ers selected USC safety Talanoa Hufanga with the 36th pick (No. 180 overall) in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

This was the compensatory pick that the Niners received for the loss of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders last year.


Hufanga registered 62 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, a pass defensed, four interceptions, and two forced fumbles through six games as a junior in 2020, per Sports Reference. He has recorded 203 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, eight passes defensed, four interceptions, and four forced fumbles through his three collegiate seasons.

Hufanga is from Corvallis, OR. He earned a pre-draft grade of 5.99 from NFL.com, which equates to a "backup or special-teams player," per the site's 8-point grading scale.

NFL.com projected Hufanga to be a fourth- or fifth-round draft pick.

Below is the NFL.com draft profile bio on Hufanga:

Talanoa Hufanga (pronounced tal-uh-NOE-uh who-FAWN-guh) grew up in Corvallis, Oregon, but eschewed the Beavers (where his brother, T.J., played linebacker) and Ducks to go to USC, partially because he viewed it as "basically a Polynesian school." He was named the 2017 Polynesian High School National Player of the Year as a senior at Crescent Valley High School, where he was a two-time all-state pick. Hufanga played in the first eight games of the 2018 season, with five starts (51 tackles, 3.5 for loss, four pass breakups), but missed the end of the year and the following spring practice with a broken collarbone. He returned to garner second-team All-Pac-12 and team Co-Defensive Perimeter Player of the Year honors in 2019 (90 tackles, 7.5 for loss with 3.5 sacks, three pass breakups and two forced fumbles in 10 starts) despite missing one game with a concussion and two more contests with a shoulder sprain. Hufanga's excellent play in 2020 gained him first-team Associated Press All-American and Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year honors. The first-team all-conference selection tied for second in the FBS with 0.67 interceptions per game (four total) and tied for sixth with 6.7 solo tackles per game (40 total, 62 total tackles, 5.5 for loss) while also forcing two fumbles in six starts. His cousin, Marlon Tuipulotu, plays on the defensive line for USC. -- by Chad Reuter

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com wrote the following about Hufanga within his scouting report:

Safety with add-on potential who can come into the box and give his defense an additional linebacker look thanks to his strength and urgency near the line of scrimmage. He can handle zone-cover duties and matchups on in-line tight ends, but lacks the burst and top-end speed to be asked to handle a more expansive role on the back end. He pursues the run with patience and leverage, but will need to quicken his pace some or he could find that NFL speed defeats his angles to the perimeter. He plays with a pro demeanor and toughness, but the medical checks could be his biggest obstacle this draft season. He has box safety and nickel/dime linebacker potential.

Drae Harris of The Draft Network wrote the following about Hufanga within his scouting report:

Talanoa Hufanga was a versatile defender for the Trojans defense. He is a safety by trade but has aligned in multiple places due to his diverse skill set. He is a violent tackler who seems to enjoy the physical aspect of the game. His mental aptitude allows him to easily align in multiple places. He has made strides in the passing game, evidenced by his four interceptions this season. He is an instinctive player who plays the game with a violent edge.

Pro Football Focus wrote the following about Hufanga:

Talanoa saw significant playing time for the Trojans since he was a freshman back in 2018. While he's called a safety, at 215 pounds he's the size of some linebackers in the NFL today. And that's ultimately where Hufanga could end up. He's one powerful dude at that size and packs a punch either on ball carriers or would-be blockers. While he "broke out" this past season with four interceptions, that really isn't indicative of the coverage prowess he brings to the table. He can be effective as an underneath zone defender, but that's probably about it.

Dane Brugler of The Athletic wrote the following about Hufanga:

A three-year starter at USC, Hufanga played strong safety in defensive coordinator Todd Orlando's 4􏰇-2-5 scheme, seeing most of his time near the box. Injuries plagued his first two seasons, but he stayed healthy in 2020 and was the Pac-12􏰁􏰅's Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 10.3 tackles per game and leading the team with four interceptions. The quarterback of the defense at USC, Hufanga uses his vision to pick up on offensive cues and has the balance and body control to make plays. However, he has tweener traits and projects best near the line of scrimmage, lacking the range for man-cover or downfield work against NFL offenses. Overall, Hufanga is tough, instinctive and quick to recognize play design, but the durability of his right shoulder is a strong concern and he lacks elite play speed for a safety. He projects as a short-zone, subpackage defender if he can stay healthy.

Measurables


Height: 6-1
Weight: 215 lbs.
Arm length: 32 inches
Hand length: 9.875 inches

Personal


  • Attended Crescent Valley (Corvallis, OR) HS where recorded 44 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, four interceptions, a fumble recovery, and a forced fumble as a senior in 2017 and was named the Polynesian High School National Player of the Year.
  • As a senior, registered 35 receptions for 696 yards and 11 touchdowns, and 39 rushes for 490 yards and seven rushing touchdowns on offense.
  • Majored in communications at USC.
  • Born Talanoa Hufanga (2/1/00) in Corvallis, OR.

Other Notes


  • His name is pronounced tal-uh-NOE-uh who-FAWN-guh.
  • Grew up on a farm where he and his family looked after goats, cows, chickens, pigs, dogs, and cats. On his farm, they would drive dirt bikes and tractors, but taking care of his goat was always his favorite activity. "Growing up on a farm, it's a different kind of childhood I didn't have neighborhood friends to hang out with," he said. "On the weekends it was mandatory that my brother and I were working. We weeded, cleaned the barn, fed the animals, took eggs out of the chicken coop, and maintained the pig pens."
  • Comes from a family of football players, as brother, T.J., was a linebacker at Oregon State from 2013-14, and cousins Marlon and Tuli Tuipulotu are both defensive linemen at USC.

College Statistics
Year School Class G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int
2018 USC FR 8 31 20 51 3.5 0 --
2019 USC SO 10 58 32 90 7.5 3.5 --
2020 USC JR 6 40 22 62 5.5 3 4
Total USC 129 74 203 16.5 6.5 4


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