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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga gains insights from John Lynch

Jun 6, 2024 at 9:22 AM

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When Talanoa Hufanga returns to the football field, he expects to be a better player mentally. The San Francisco 49ers safety has been recovering from the ACL injury that shortened his 2023 season. He aims to be ready for Week 1 of the upcoming season after ramping up his workload during training camp.

Although Hufanga is now considered a veteran in the defensive backs room, having already secured Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in his short career, he doesn't believe he has reached his ceiling. Hufanga is in the unique position of learning from one of the best ever to play the position, Hall of Fame safety and 49ers general manager John Lynch.

The 49ers wrapped up their mandatory minicamp this week. During practices, Hufanga, still rehabbing, was seen in the back of the end zone observing the on-field work. Next to him was Lynch, and the two were engaged in conversation.

"For me, first and foremost, it's awesome, just because you have a Hall of Fame safety that's our general manager," Hufanga told reporters this week. "Anytime you have a question, you just go to him. You've gotta learn from him. You've gotta be a sponge and absorb his knowledge."

Hufanga has ensured that some of the younger players at the position, like second-year safety Ji'Ayir Brown, know they have an incredible resource at their disposal.

"I think the cool thing is seeing Ji'Ayir come along with it, too, because now he's understanding who our GM really is," Hufanga commented. "He understands ball. He's played at a high level."

Hufanga is eager to soak up any knowledge Lynch might offer. The safety knows his starting job isn't guaranteed and approaches each offseason with the mindset that he will have to fight for playing time. This mindset is especially crucial coming off a significant injury, so Hufanga is taking advantage of every opportunity to improve his game.

"It's not given. I have to earn it as well," Hufanga noted.

When asked about the specifics of his discussions with Lynch, Hufanga responded, "I'm learning because, as a GM, you have to know both sides. You have to know the offensive and the defensive call."

Speaking to the man who has helped shape the roster and knows what head coach Kyle Shanahan likes to throw at defenses has been a massive advantage for Hufanga.

"So we will talk about certain stuff, or we'll talk about personnel and different things, and how to attack certain coverages and stuff," Hufanga continued. "So as much as I try to just absorb as much knowledge from him, it's really cool. I think a lot of time, I'll get into a rhythm last year where I'm playing the call versus what he would like to say, being myself and using my vision, being a very instinctual player and not having to rely on a call.

"So that was really cool to have John in my ear, teaching me that, and knowing what my strengths are and play to them. My goal is to go back out there, and compete, and do my best, and learn from John, and translate it to the field."
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