49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga has quickly become a household name in his first full season as a starting member of one of the prominent defenses in the National Football League. The sophomore defensive back out of USC has rapidly established himself as one of the most impactful players on this 49ers' defense and among the elite at the safety position league-wide.
Hufanga is the only player in the NFL this season to record 4-plus interceptions and five plus tackles for loss, a statistic that embodies the all-around impact he has made week in and week out.
The tackles for loss may not come as a surprise, as Hufanga has displayed exceptional instincts in the box from the moment he stepped foot on an NFL field. But what stands out the most about Hufanga is the timing and execution behind these plays that he is blowing up behind the line of scrimmage, particularly in the run game.
Niners Nation’s own Vish Kumaran mentioned earlier in the season that Hufanga might have the quickest trigger in the run game of any player in the NFL. The more and more he plays, the harder it has become to refute that there is anyone better in this facet of the game than Hufanga has been.
However, the elite level that Hufanga has played at while in coverage, paired with that natural feel for playing inside the box, is what really has separated Hufanga from so many of his peers this season.
Here are some statistics and where Hufanga ranks among qualified safeties league-wide.
Stops - T-2nd
Pressures - T-7th
Pass Breakups - T-2nd
Interceptions - T-2nd
Passer rating when targeted - 2nd
Hufanga ranks in the top ten across most major statistical categories at his position and continues to look more and more comfortable with each start he records. The 49ers have a star on their hands in year two, which begs the question moving forward, just how special can Hufanga be? Time will tell, but as of now, the future appears to be very bright.