The San Francisco 49ers made national headlines with their No. 3 pick, but their 2021 NFL draft might be remembered as a success for other reasons.
Let’s look at how the 49ers found value in this NFL draft. Remember that they got George Kittle in the fifth round, once upon a time.
49ers NFL draft chess moves:
3. Talanoa Hufanga at pick No. 180
The 49ers have picked great defensive players from USC in the past. They took Ronnie Lott in 1981, easily the most important defensive draft pick of the Bill Walsh era. Rott was a teammate of linebacker Riki Ellison at USC. When Ellison was on the board in the 1983 NFL draft, Lott convinced Walsh and the Niner braintrust to take Ellison. The pick worked out. Ellison was a starting linebacker for San Francisco’s championship teams in the 1984 and 1988 seasons.
Given that USC heritage, the 49ers went back to the well on defense and took Trojan safety Talanoa Hufanga at No. 180, midway through Day 3 on Saturday, May 1. Hufanga has a nose for the ball. He is not especially fast, but he is in the right position. He makes good reads. He has a high football IQ. He is a very coachable player who will not be fooled or outmaneuvered.