49ers’ Lynch confident Hufanga will return to form in second half

49ers’ Lynch confident Hufanga will return to form in second half
originally appeared on
NBC Sports Bay Area

Eight games into San Francisco’s 2023 NFL regular season, Talanoa Hufanga has looked like a shell of his 2022 NFL Pro Bowl self.

With just two interceptions and questionable tackling, the third-year NFL safety knows he has to be better during the 5-3 49ers’
second half of the season.

Luckily for Hufanga, 49ers general manager John Lynch is in his corner, expressing confidence in the USC product’s ability to return to his game-changing status this season during an appearance on
KNBR’s “Murph and Mac Podcast” featuring Brian Murphy and Markus Boucher.

“I think that Talanoa has to understand that you just have to be who you’ve been, and not try to do too much,” Lynch told Murphy and Boucher. “I think sometimes, as a player, back to when I made my first Pro Bowl, sometimes you think, ‘OK, I got to go to another level.’ ”

Lynch knows best, as he played safety for 15 years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Denver Broncos, earning nine NFL Pro Bowl nods, a Super Bowl win and a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction.

San Francisco’s GM is well aware of Hufanga’s talent and trusts that the player who had four interceptions last season will reappear in the coming weeks.

“Talanoa is a difference-maker when he’s at his best,” Lynch explained to Murphy and Boucher. “And we just have to get him back to being his best on a game-in, game-out basis. He hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t been the difference-maker we’re accustomed to. I think he’ll get back on track.”

So far this season, Hufanga is on pace to match last year’s total tackles of 97 and needs two more interceptions to match last season’s number.

While Hufanga isn’t the only player who is responsible for the
49ers’ three-game losing streak, his mediocracy won’t lead to any wins.

Coming out of the Week 9 bye, San Francisco has to
perform better as a whole. Hufanga turning things around would go a long way to accomplishing that goal.

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