49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga out for season with torn ACL

Nov 20, 2023, 10:20 AM | Updated: 10:47 am

Talanoa Hufanga #29 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts during an NFL football game between the San F...

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 11: Talanoa Hufanga #29 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts during an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium on December 11, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

The San Francisco 49ers may have won their game in Week 11, but they lost Talanoa Hufanga for the rest of the season in the process.

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed Monday morning that the team’s All-Pro safety suffered a torn ACL in Week 11, putting him on the shelf for the rest of the 2023 season. The news comes after the 49ers’ worst fears were realized last night, with an MRI confirming the diagnosis thereafter.

Hufanga suffered the injury at the 8:40 mark of the third quarter, slipping on the field as he went to tackle Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Rachaad White. The player’s right knee gave out on the play, but he was able to limp off the field to the sideline. After spending some time in the blue medical tent, the safety was carted to the locker room. He left Levi’s Stadium on crutches, with a brace over his injured knee, unable to put much weight on it.

The USC alum has been a revelation for the 49ers since bursting on the scene in 2022. Named an All-Pro in Year 1 as a starter, “Huf” had been working towards that goal once more this season. While his stats aren’t as eye-popping in Year 2 (52 combined tackles and three interceptions), the Polynesian standout was improving each week before suffering the injury.

“I thought he started out well,” Shanahan said Monday about Hufanga’s play. “I thought he hit a little lull during the season in our skid. I thought he played one of his best games versus Jacksonville, And I thought the same thing was going to happen [in Week 11]. But, I thought he was having a real good year.”

Some good news came from the MRI though, as no damage to his meniscus was revealed to further complicate the recovery. Still, he will face a long rehabilitation process with his right knee this offseason. But if all goes well, Talanoa Hufanga should be ready to go for Week 1 of the 2024 NFL season.

For now, rookie safety Ji’Ayir Brown will fill in, doing an admirable job in the fourth quarter of Week 11. The Penn State alum finished with four tackles, three pass break-ups, and his first career interception to close the door on Tampa Bay.

While the 49ers would have preferred to bring Brown along slowly (similar to Talanoa Hufanga), the rookie standout is needed in the present, something the 49ers believe he is ready for.

“One of the reasons we went for him [in the draft], we knew we needed some depth there. The cool thing about him is, I think you heard it from guys yesterday, but the way he’s been practicing here every week like he knew this moment would come. He’s been locked in and it’s extremely impressive for a rookie and I think that’s why he was ready for his moment last night and made some big plays and helped us win. So, excited for him, for his opportunity but really bummed about Huf,” Shanahan said.

Upcoming San Francisco 49ers Schedule

  • Thursday, Nov. 23rd @ Seattle Seahawks – 5:20 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Dec. 3rd @ Philadelphia Eagles – 1:25 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Dec. 10th vs. Seattle Seahawks – 1:05 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Dec. 17th @ Arizona Cardinals – 1:05 p.m. PST
  • Monday, Dec. 25th vs. Baltimore Ravens – 5:15 p.m. PST

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