Draft Wire: Talanoa Hufanga was 49ers’ biggest draft steal

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Talanoa Hufanga shortly after the 49ers made him the No. 180 overall pick in this year’s draft told reporters his Year 1 goal was to make the Pro Bowl as a special teams player. While that’s a relatively lofty goal, he might need to adjust his sights a little higher. The Draft Wire listed Hufanga as the 49ers’ biggest steal of the 2021 draft.

Hufanga becoming a dominant special teams player and making his mark in that facet would be a nice result for the 49ers’ late fifth-round selection. The team’s immediate future at safety, where Hufanga figures to play, is uncertain.

Starting strong safety Jaquiski Tartt re-signed on a one-year deal. Marcell Harris is on the final year of his rookie contract. Tarvarius Moore may wind up factoring in as a free safety down the road, and veteran Tavon Wilson is only on a one-year deal. Hufanga will have a chance as a rookie to earn a role on defense, and he may go into his second season as the favorite to start.

The workout numbers don’t jump off the page for Hufanga, which might’ve contributed to him falling to the back of Round 5. He’s only 6-foot, 200 pounds and ran a 4.64 40-yard dash at USC’s Pro Day.

His production in college does stand out though and indicates his game speed is better than his straight-line speed in a workout. Hufanga in three seasons with the Trojans racked up 203 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, four interceptions and eight pass breakups. Turn on any USC game during his tenure and chances are he’ll finish the play around the football.

If he does wind up translating that all-around production to the NFL and becomes a starting-caliber safety and Pro Bowl-caliber special teams ace, he’ll easily become not only the 49ers’ biggest steal, but one of the steals of the entire draft.