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Are the 49ers looking to replace a rehabbing Talanoa Hufanga?

Mar 17, 2024 at 11:35 AM


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Who knows what might have unfolded had starting safety Talanoa Hufanga not sustained a season-ending ACL injury on November 19, 2023? Could his presence for the remainder of the season have provided the slight edge the defense needed to halt the late-game surge by the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 58? Would it have made a difference?

Michael Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that the 49ers might be eyeing a big-name safety like Justin Simmons, a four-time second-team All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowl selection, who remains available in what Silver referred to as an "oversaturated" safety market. However, it's worth noting that Silver didn't explicitly state that the 49ers are actively pursuing the former Denver Bronco and only named him as an option.

San Francisco is high on second-year safety Ji'Ayir Brown, whom the team drafted in the third round last year as a potential successor to Tashaun Gipson. Fans were eager to see what a Hufanga-Brown duo in the defensive backfield might look like.

However, if the 49ers are indeed considering adding a starting-caliber safety, what implications might that hold for one of these two players? Is the plan to pair an addition with Hufanga or Brown?

Silver adds the nugget, "Safety Talanoa Hufanga, a 24-year-old who earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2022, is coming off a torn ACL and isn't assured of reclaiming his starting job."

While this may seem harsh for a player who was clearly on the rise before his injury, the NFL can be a brutal business. Could the 49ers' defensive overhaul, which, until now, has been most apparent along the defensive line, extend to Hufanga? If Gipson retires or signs elsewhere, and Hufanga isn't ready for the start of the 2024 regular season, San Francisco would need to find a reliable option to pair with Brown.

The 49ers might not be willing to rely on another youngster, such as a rookie, knowing that their competitive window remains wide open, and they are striving to return to and win a Super Bowl.

It's unlikely San Francisco is nearing completion with its roster adjustments. With the departure of defensive tackle Arik Armstead, the team has made it clear that it won't allow sentimentality to influence its offseason decisions.
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