Buy 49ers at Rams NFC Championship tickets →

These two 49ers rookies earned rare ‘gold helmet’ during pre-draft evaluations

May 13, 2021 at 10:16 AM--


According to assistant general manager Adam Peters, the San Francisco 49ers award a "gold helmet" designation to draft prospects who are "exemplary" in several areas, including leadership and intelligence. He told Matt Barrows of The Athletic that last year's fifth-round pick, offensive lineman Colton McKivitz, received the designation.

Heading into a draft, only 15-20 prospects earn the "gold helmet." This year, the 49ers ended up drafting two players who earned the designation — quarterback Trey Lance, selected No. 3 overall, and safety Talanoa Hufanga, the last of three fifth-round picks.



Lance made 17 starts at North Dakota State (NDSU). There wasn't a ton of film to review, but the tape the quarterback did have showed that he had the potential to be very special. Peters notes that evaluating Lance would have been a challenge during a typical offseason because you don't go to many NDSU games, to begin with. The pandemic made things more challenging.

There was also the issue that Lance's only full season came during the 2019 season. He did play one non-conference game on October 3, 2020, but it was his only appearance last season. The Bison football program postponed the rest of its season to the spring.

The lone outing against Central Arkansas wasn't his best showing, but it was a win. Lance finished the game 15-of-30 passing for 149 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. He also added 15 carries for 143 rushing yards and two more scores on the ground.

"It wasn't his best game," Peters told Barrows. "And there was probably as much pressure on him in that game as anybody in any game except for maybe the championship game. It was really a one-off. You can't throw it out, but you can weigh it less, I think."

Head coach Kyle Shanahan, general manager John Lynch, and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello got to see Lance in person on April 19, during the quarterback's second pro day in Fargo, North Dakota.



Hufanga was a favorite inside the 49ers building.

"The coaches loved him, Kyle loved him, John loved him, I loved him," Peters said. "He's a hard guy not to love. When he was still on the board, that made it an easy pick. But I credit [West region scout Dominic DeCicco] for continuing to push and having the belief in that kid. And we think we got a really good player at a really good value there."

Hufanga spoke with reporters after receiving a call from Lynch and Shanahan on the third day of the draft. He came off as incredibly likable and expressed how thankful he was to be given the opportunity to play in the NFL.

Hufanga, along with the rest of the rookies, arrived in the Bay Area on Wednesday. He spoke with reporters again after spending some time at the facility.

"I'm blessed," the former USC safety told us with a smile on his face. "I just want to thank God for this opportunity. Being able to step here, and land at the airport, I'm just trying to take in everything. Driving up and being able to see the facility is an incredible process. I'm really just enjoying it, so I cannot complain."

Said Peters of Hufanga's play: "I think you could see his passion. You could feel it on the silent tape, just how hard he plays, with how much energy he plays with."



Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Jimmy Garoppolo acknowledges mistakes during 49ers-Cowboys, says outside noise fuels him

By David Bonilla
Jan 17

"It held up," Jimmy Garoppolo said of his injured right thumb after the San Francisco 49ers' 23-17 playoff victory over the Dallas Cowboys. "Pretty much the same as last week. I mean, it's a day-to-day fight." The torn ligament and chipped bone in Garoppolo's thumb may have contributed to the quarterback's costly fourth-quarter interception. Garoppolo was targeting wide receiver Trent Sherfield, but the football ended up in the hands of Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown. "I didn't grip it the right way," Garoppolo later told NBC Sports' Peter King. "Not trying to make excuses, but things happen like that. Really not too much more to it than



What Kyle Shanahan said two days after 49ers' playoff win vs. Packers

By Site Staff
Jan 24

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke with reporters via a conference call on Monday, two days after the team's playoff win against the Green Bay Packers. The 49ers are preparing to play the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game. Here is everything Shanahan had to say. Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff. Opening comments: "Alright guys, injuries from the game. [RB] Jeff Wilson Jr. has an ankle sprain, it ended up not being high, so we'll see how this week goes, he's got a chance. [T] Trent Williams also had ankle sprain. His X-rays were negative, it's similar to what we dealt with last week with [DL] Jordan [Willis]. Just some old stuff in there too, so not exactly sure



49ers Notebook: Could 49ers mark end of the road for Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady? Arik Armstead the baller; Deebo's big run; Outcome never in doubt?

By Kirk Larrabee
Jan 23

There's a lot to unpack from Saturday night's memorable 13-10 win for the San Francisco 49ers over the Green Bay Packers, but some of the biggest news to surface since that game came to an end involves the legendary quarterback the 49ers faced in their latest playoff victory—and the one they could face next week. Keep in mind there are still a lot of unknowns here, including (as of Sunday morning) whether or not the 49ers will even get this opportunity when they battle in the NFC Championship next Sunday (6:40 p.m. ET/3:40 p.m. PT, FOX). But based on what Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Saturday night to go with what's been reported about Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady over the past 24 hours, it's not incorrect to say the 49ers could conceivably be the team to



49ers Notebook: McDaniel raves about Deebo, says Garoppolo playing his best football; Nick Bosa on 'beatable' Cowboys OTs, Ezekiel Elliot; It's sunny in Trent Williams' world

By Kirk Larrabee
Jan 13

As always, Thursday was an eventful media day for the San Francisco 49ers, who had a number of players speak to the media as well as defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel. 49ers Webzone has already dug into a number of topics discussed by those players and coaches, but there's much more to cover than that. We'll get into that in today's notebook feature below. Here's a rundown of a number of items of note covered during today's media sessions. (See also: John Lynch says Deebo Samuel will be with the 49ers for a long time | DL Arden Key


Featured

Trending News

Share 49ersWebzone