Talanoa Hufanga’s 2023 season is officially over.
Tests confirmed the safety suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan announced on Monday.
Hufanga suffered the injury early in the third quarter of San Francisco’s 27-14 win over Tampa Bay when he attempted to close in on Buccaneers running back Rachaad White, who cut outside to evade Hufanga, who fell to the turf. Hufanga stood up and slowly walked off the field, but did not return to the game, with rookie Ji’Ayir Brown replacing him and recording an interception in the fourth quarter.
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Hufanga eventually boarded a cart to the locker room for further evaluation, and the test results confirmed the worst. In a bit of positive news, Hufanga’s torn ACL did not involve the meniscus, per Shanahan.
2023 will be the first campaign in which Hufanga did not appear in 15 or more games. The former fifth-round pick has proven to be a gem of a selection in his two-plus NFL seasons, rising from a rotational player to a key piece in San Francisco’s defense. He earned his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections in 2022 after recording 97 tackles (five for loss), four interceptions, nine passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
Hufanga officially introduced himself to the NFL world with his pick-six of Matthew Stafford during San Francisco’s win over Los Angeles on Monday Night Football last season, and has continued to produce as a versatile piece in the 49ers’ defense. He’ll be missed for the rest of 2023 as the 49ers continue on their pursuit of a Super Bowl.
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