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Talanoa Hufanga Injury Update; Three Takeaways from Kyle Shanahan

The San Francisco 49ers have won two-straight games coming out of their Week 9 Bye, securing their lead in the NFC West race with a 27-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon. The 49ers rolled on the offensive side of the ball, led by quarterback Brock Purdy, who earned a perfect 158.3 passer rating and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who hauled in five passes for 156 yards and a touchdown. On defense, the unit generated two turnovers, 4.0 sacks and 11 passes defended to limit the Buccaneers to just two scores.

Up next for the 49ers is a short turnaround for a Thanksgiving Day game versus their division rival, the Seattle Seahawks. Head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke with the media on Monday morning to debrief about the Week 11 game and look ahead to the team's upcoming matchup.

Here are the three biggest takeaways from the head coach:

Injury concerns regarding safety Talanoa Hufanga have been confirmed.

The third-year pro tore his ACL in the third quarter of the Sunday's game and will be out for the remainder of the 2023 season. The injury appeared to be non-contact and occurred during his attempt to stop a Buccaneers passing play near the right sideline. Hufanga was carted to the locker room and ruled out of the contest shortly after.

Per Shanahan, further evaluation revealed that the injury was just to the ACL, and early reports don't show any damage to the meniscus so the tear is "as clean as it could be." Based on the timing of his injury and barring any major setbacks, Shanahan believes Hufanga should be ready for the start of the 2024 season.

"He started out well," Shanahan said. "He hit a little lull during the season in our skid, and he played one of his best games versus Jacksonville. I thought the same thing was going to happen here, but I thought he was going to end up having a real good year."

Hufanga started ten games and amassed 51 total tackles (one tackle-for-loss), two quarterback hits, three interceptions and three passes defended in 2023.

Shanahan feels confident about safety Ji'Ayir Brown and his ability to start in place of Hufanga.

Brown closed out this day with four total tackles, three passes defended and a quarterback hit after stepping in for Hufanga in the second half. The third-round pick's most notable splash plays, however, came in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Brown broke up a fourth down pass attempt to Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans with 6:45 left to play, and on the next Buccaneers offensive series, intercepted quarterback Baker Mayfield to seal the 49ers victory.

"It's one of the reasons we went for him, we knew we needed some depth (at the safety position)," Shanahan said. "The coolest thing about him is... he's been practicing like he knew this moment was coming. He's been locked in.

"It's extremely impressive for a rookie, and I think that's why he was ready for his moment last night. He made some big plays that helped us win. I'm excited for him and his opportunity, but I'm really bummed about Huf."

With four days until their next matchup, players will have a rest day and coaches have already begun to turn the page to Seattle.

The 49ers Thanksgiving Day game is one of five primetime matchups for San Francisco in 2023. Playing on this holiday is a first for Shanahan as a head coach and will be the team's first Turkey Day matchup since the 2014 season. Apart from the holiday mystique, this is a significant matchup for the red and gold, who are looking to remain on top of the NFC West. The Seahawks are currently trailing San Francisco in the standings, but these two teams have yet to play each other this season and will meet twice over the next three weeks.

"You go up to Seattle, and it's as hard as it gets. It's one of the toughest places to play in the NFL, if not the toughest," Shanahan said. "They have a certain style there, and the way they play that is harder to deal with on the road because of how loud it is and the snap count is an advantage. It's always tough to go there. I also know just starting within the day, how many good players they have, how well they're coached and how big of a challenge it will be this Thursday."

View postgame photos following the San Francisco 49ers matchup vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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