Talanoa Hufanga

49ers' Hufanga goes ‘incognito' at local high school football games

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Talanoa Hufanga doesn't just play football, the 49ers safety is a huge fan of the game.

So when the 23-year-old gets some free time on the weekend, he likes to check out some action and show support at a local high school football game. But because the All-Pro safety established himself as a significant piece of the 49ers' dominant defense, he has to disguise himself under the Friday night lights.

"The big thing that I like to do, even during the weeks of the game, Friday, I usually go to a high school football game," Hufanga said Tuesday morning on KNBR's "Murph & Mac." "Those are things that I like to do. So I've been sneaking around, incognito, going to these games just enjoying them as much as I can.

"So it's been a blessing to see where I started and where it's led to, and giving guys hopes that they can make their dreams come true as well."

Hufanga, who's in his third season with the 49ers, has tried to enjoy some football without disguising himself in the past, but it turned out to be a lesson learned.

"I've gotten bombarded some places, so I had to change my look up a little bit," Hufanga said. "So some places, I go and just enjoy it. Just be a fan. I love what I do and football is a big part of my life, but it's cool to watch the kids grow and see where they're going to head in the future."

Hufanga grew up in Oregon and attended Crescent Valley High School where he played safety, wide receiver and quarterback. As a senior in 2017, he was named the Polynesian High School National Player of the Year. He played college ball at USC where, in 2020, he was a Consensus All-American and won the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award.

Three years later, Hufanga has to go into full incognito mode, which he said he has pulled off "multiple times" in public, to avoid being recognized at high school football games and, more importantly, do one of his favorite things without any distractions.

Hufanga said his joy for watching high school football dates back to his childhood when he would cruise to a nearby stadium with his father, which turned into a weekly bonding experience.

"Me and my dad have been going to high school football games since I was maybe 4," he said. "I remember riding bikes to the nearest stadium, watching football games. And it wasn't like I was a huge football fan, I think it was just part of being around my pops and spending that quality time. And then as I'm getting older, being a dad probably is going to help me down the line.

"So I'm learning and getting adjusted to what I'm going to do with my kids down the line, but just enjoying the moments that I get to go and see a good Friday night football game."

From Hufanga the football player to Hufanga the football fan to Hufanga the football dad, what's next? Coach Hufanga, perhaps?

"It's been a possibility. I've been thinking about being a high school football coach," Hufanga said. "I think it is something that I've always loved, especially when it's so fresh in its purest form. There's a lot of great coaching out there, but it's not to the highest degree. So I think I love just watching kids go out there and play the game they love with a passion, it's at its truest form.

"So being able to experience that maybe down the line, become a coach. But at the moment, I just love observing and watching."

Of course, that won't be anytime soon as the young safety has plenty of football to play. And right now, his only goal is to help the 49ers reach the Super Bowl and win the franchise's sixth Lombardi Trophy.

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