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Second year safety Talanoa Hufanga has brought a bright energy and enthusiasm to the San Francisco 49ers since he was selected in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

"I love the physicality that he brings," defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans said. "That's the style of play I want to see from all the other guys that are out there with him. That tenacity, that physicality, that's what we look for in our defense and Huf brought it... He's a fun, exciting player to watch because you know he's going to bring it every single play. In some type of way, he's going to be around the ball, making a big play for you."

Keep reading to learn more about San Francisco's safety.

Celebrating Tongan Herritage

If you've ever wondered why Hufanga puts his arms in a "T" formation after a big play, it's a celebration that honors his heritage. The deep-rooted display represents where his family is from, the Polynesian island of Tonga.

"I just always throw my Ts when I can celebrate for them," Hufanga said. "Just to continue to see my success, it's their success as well. It's not just one person, it's a thousand people behind me."

Hufanga represents a large part of the Bay Area community. According to the Bay Area Equity Atlas, 27 percent of Bay Area residents – just over two million people – identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander (AAPI), second only to the Honolulu metro.

"My cousin told me I was getting drafted into the biggest Tongan community that there possibly is in the U.S.," Hufanga said. "The Bay Area has continued to be by my side and I'm just trying to reciprocate the energy and continue to do my best on the field... Football gives us a platform to represent our culture at its finest and the respect that we love to give. We just want to make sure our culture is heard and we just want to bring a good light and show people who we truly are."

Hall of Fame Mentor

Hufanga has had the fortune of being groomed by NFL Hall of Fame legend, Troy Polamalu. As a fellow USC Trojan, safety and Polynesian athlete, Polamalu helped coach Hufanga leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft through physical training, mental preparedness and ultimately, being a mentor for the young safety as he navigated his way through the league.

"Learning from him is very different," Hufanga said. "It's a training that's not common."

Life on the Farm

Hufanga is almost always the very first player on the field before practices and gamedays. The safety states that his dedication comes from growing up on his family's farm in Corvallis, Oregon.

Raising goats, cows, chickens, pigs, dogs and cats, his family also drove dirt bikes and tractors. Taking care of his goat was Hufanga's favorite activity.

"Growing up on a farm, it's a different kind of childhood," Hufanga said. "I didn't have neighborhood friends to hang out with. On the weekends, it was mandatory that my brother and I were working. We weeded, cleaned the barn, fed the animals, took eggs out of the chicken coop and maintained the pig pens."

A Life-Long Dream

The second-year safety has had a love for the game of football since childhood.

Check out this video montage Hufanga retweeted that displays his growth from youth football to the NFL:

Sweet Tooth

Hufanga's go-to snacks are original AirHeads candy bites, Munchies snack mix and sour Skittles. Yum!

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