San Francisco 49ers defensive back Talanoa Hufanga tore his ACL in the team’s 27-14 win against the Tamp Bay Buccaneers, coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed Monday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Hufanga suffered “a clean tear” and did not tear his meniscus, Shanahan said.
- The third-year pro left Sunday’s game with the injury and had one tackle before exiting.
- Hufanga, who was a first-team All-Pro last year, has recorded 52 tackles and three interceptions in 10 games this season.
Who steps up?
Hufanga’s clean ACL tear does create a recovery timetable that has the safety returning in time for the 2024 season opener. The 49ers will turn to rookie Ji’Ayir Brown to start in Hufanga’s place. Brown delivered in replacement duty after Hufanga went down late in the third quarter against the Buccaneers.
Brown, who was the only player in college football to notch 10 interceptions over the past two seasons, picked off a Baker Mayfield pass to help seal the 49ers’ win. He also broke up a pass in the end zone intended for Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans on a critical fourth down.
Shanahan said that Hufanga had turned his play around after he’d hit a lull — along with the rest of the 49ers’ secondary — during the team’s three-game losing streak. Now, Hufanga will hit the rehab path. The 23-year-old will be entering his fourth year in the NFL next season — his final season under contract with the 49ers. — David Lombardi, 49ers staff writer
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