Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Talanoa Hufanga discusses being drafted by the 49ers

May 1, 2021 at 2:48 PM--

New San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga spoke with reporters after being drafted in the fifth round. Here is everything he had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

How are you feeling?

"I've talked about it before, this is unreal. Thank you guys so much. This is such a blessing. Truly, I thank God for this opportunity."

I know you've been training with former NFL S Troy Polamalu since January. What has that experience been like and what have you been able to glean about what you needed to work on and how you fit in at the NFL level?

"Working with Troy is very different. It's a truly unbelievable process. I thank God for it every day. I think the most important thing he teaches me is just being present in the moment. You know, a lot of things you can get ahead of yourself and think about the wrong moments or look down the line, when you really have to be present and focus on what today has to offer. I really truly try to stand by that. As much as I say it, I actually really try to live by that. If I can just be present with my family and be present with you guys when I'm on this call, it means so much to me. I'm just very grateful for this. It is unreal."

You obviously went through a real tough stretch, it looked like, with injuries and surgeries. Was there a low moment for you? How gratifying was it to put together last season and stay healthy?

"You know, for me there wasn't really a low moment, because I think truly adversity builds who I am. You go through some tough times but you have to be positive. I'm very faith-based and I'm very religious with my family. God has given me this opportunity so whether I'm injured or on the field or off the field. I try to just be a happy and encouraging person regardless and live my life in the way that God would like me to. It does feel good to be healthy, no doubt about that, and being able to play and have fun with my cousins and teammates as well. So just trying to make the most of this opportunity is pretty much what I'm all about."

What can you talk about in regards to the 49ers? How they might use you and what you know about the franchise?

"As much as I wish I knew a bunch, I'm very quiet when it comes to the NFL. I think I didn't really know a lot about teams because I was so busy watching USC film and trying to make the most of that. It's very similar to how Troy, we kind of talked about how our experience was. We weren't really focused on the next level. We were focused on the present and what we had to offer. Making this transition, I hope to get to know the tradition, the history and everything about it. I'm just grateful for it. I just want to make the most when I want to get on the field. I don't know too much of how they'll use me. I just hope I can bring this attitude and a great mindset and go out there and hopefully make plays on and off the field."

It's quite obvious that you're very appreciative of this moment and you're clearly just thrilled with this. Take us along your journey. We meet with a lot of guys on these calls and everybody kind of handles it a little bit differently. What's your passion? You're not emotional, but we can tell you're appreciative. Why is that?

"Man, the tears came already just so you guys know. It's just a blessing. My family has been through a lot. My dad grew up on an island where he grew up with dirt floors. When you make that transition and I got to see where he grew up and see what it was like, you're grateful for these opportunities and how we can live our life. How I can better our lifestyle as well. That's what drives me. My mom has been there and been my backbone as well. So I have such a great family support system. I just want to make the most and cherish these moments. These are special and I think a lot of guys can get carried away with dollar signs but for me it didn't matter. I just wanted an opportunity. Give me one chance and I'm going to make the most of it. That's who I am. And that's how I play this game because it's not a matter of money, it's a matter of passion. I'm very grateful for this, just to be able to play and see the smile on my parents' faces when I step on the field."

You talked about it a little bit already, but it seems like from just watching your tape, that you play with a pretty great deal of joy. Is that a fair assessment of how you play?

"Yes, sir. Yeah. I think I'm just very blessed. I am lucky, I did play with three other cousins at USC, which is incredible. When you're on the field with four relatives all at the same time, you've got to cherish that. That makes the game even that much more fun because we get to go out, have some fun, and talk about the memories when we get home. We just tried to make the most of those times. I hope you guys understand my passion for this game and this moment that I'm in right now."

When you're going through the training process, what positions were you training for and did you get any sort of feedback from NFL teams, whether they wanted you at linebacker, at a box safety, whatever position that may be?

"Yeah, for me, I just wanted to train to be versatile. My college team used me in a very unique way. I played nickel, I played strong safety, dime, field safety, and I played linebacker for a whole game. I've already talked to the safety coach and they just wanted to be able to use me in any way that they used me in college. I just have to be open. You have to have an open mindset to be versatile. Any way you can get on the field and be ready for special teams as well. I think that's a big component. This is a big, big statement but it's something I've always preached, being a special teams Pro Bowler in my first year is a goal of mine. I think a lot of guys get caught into trying to play right off the bat on the wrong parts. I understand there's a level to it and I just want to be the best I possibly can be. I'm just grateful for this opportunity."

USC Head Coach Clay Helton was very complimentary about you as a person and as a player, what was the most important thing he taught you and also what Troy Polamalu has taught you throughout this process?

"One thing that Coach Helton really said, and he really tries to give people, is the most important thing you can give somebody is your time. If you ask him, I was never late to a meeting, never late to rehab. You give your people your time and you want to make the most of it. I'm not going to be late to class because I don't think that's who I am. So that's what he taught me. The most important thing I think Troy taught me is being present, being present in the moment, but also being obedient. That goes along with being on time, doing the right things and saying the right things as well. I think we have to preach it and we have to live by it. I'm super excited to start this journey tomorrow."

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