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Writer suggests 49ers bolster defensive backfield with potential trade

Mar 31, 2024 at 11:51 AM--

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Bleacher Report writer Maurice Moton recently analyzed 10 NFL contenders, proposing trades to address their key weaknesses. For the San Francisco 49ers, the focus was on strengthening their defensive backfield.

The 49ers are hopeful that safety Talanoa Hufanga will recover from the torn ACL he suffered in November in time for Week 1.

"Talanoa is doing really well. That's the great news," general manager John Lynch said last week. "He's rehabbing extremely well, beating the timeline. Everybody does. But Talanoa is a worker, and he's doing a great job."

Ji'Ayir Brown, who stepped in for the injured Hufanga last season, showed promise lining up alongside Tashaun Gipson.

"We're incredibly high on Ji'Ayir and his prospects for becoming a player at that position that we can really trust, and a playmaker as well," Lynch continued.

Gipson remains a free agent, and there is always the possibility that the 33-year-old safety might retire, a decision he flirted with last year before signing a one-year deal with San Francisco.

In all likelihood, Hufanga will line up with Brown in the backfield in 2024. But with Hufanga's status far from certain, the 49ers have been considering their options, including hosting free agent Julian Blackmon on a visit and doing their homework on safeties entering the draft.

Moton offers another solution for defensive coordinator Nick Sorensen's unit: a potential trade between the 49ers and the New England Patriots, bringing versatile Jabrill Peppers to the Bay Area.

"For veteran insurance, the 49ers could acquire Jabrill Peppers, an athletic defensive back who's played both safety spots and slot cornerback in seven campaigns," Moton wrote. "Last year with the New England Patriots, the 28-year-old had one of his best seasons, logging 78 tackles, five for loss, a sack, eight pass breakups and two interceptions while allowing a 72.7 passer rating in coverage."

Pro Football Focus awarded Peppers career-high overall (87.3), run defense (90.7), and coverage (83.2) grades in 2023. The analytics site considers his past two seasons in New England among the best of his career.

While Moton noted Peppers allowed a 72.7 passer rating in coverage last season, Pro Football Focus actually calculated a 52.6 passer rating for opposing quarterbacks throwing in his direction.

Moton further commented, "The 49ers can slowly bring along Hufanga without giving Brown more than he can handle if they add Peppers to the roster. San Francisco could get this deal done with a late-round pick."
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