Shanahan evaluates 49ers rookies Moore, Hufanga from loss

Jaylon Moore

As the 49ers search for answers to turn their sinking season around, their draft class again has been disappointing outside of running back Elijah Mitchell, a sixth-round pick who was the second tailback the 49ers selected in the 2021 draft. 

In San Francisco's loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night, two rookies were given much bigger roles than they previously have been handed this season. With star left tackle Trent Williams ruled out, Jaylon Moore made his first start as a pro, and safety Talanoa Hufanga played a career-high in defensive snaps after Jaquiski Tartt went down. 

Coach Kyle Shanahan felt Moore was far from perfect but it was a good eye-opener for the young offensive lineman. 

“I thought Jaylon did some good things," Shanahan said Monday to reporters. "He showed the game's not too big for him. No one was perfect in that game, he made a couple of mistakes, just like a lot of people did, but I just told him, just talking to him here, watching the tape with him, ‘Welcome to the NFL.’

"... Just watching how he played down in and down out, I didn't think it was too big for him. He was ready for the challenge and I think the way he'll respond to this, I think he's going to get better and better and be a good player for us."

The 49ers selected Moore in the fifth round of the 2021 draft. Sunday night's loss was just the third game he has played this season. 


In 29 pass-blocking opportunities, Moore allowed only two pressures.

Hufanga has been a key special teams contributor all season long. When Tartt went down with a knee injury, the USC product was thrust into a bigger role and played 34 snaps on defense. He also played 24 snaps on special teams.

Shanahan says regardless of Tartt's injury, the 49ers wanted to get Hufanga more reps against the Colts. 

"Huf's been doing a great job all year with the opportunities he's gotten," Shanahan said. "We made it a point going into that game, that we were going to give him more opportunities and we got them out on the field more and I thought he did a real good job.

"And then when Tartt got hurt, he obviously stayed out there and he's been working his butt off since he's got here. Really enjoys football. He's made of the right stuff. And I expect him to really help us out here going forward.”

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Hufanga had two tackles and didn't allow any plays in pass coverage. 

The 49ers are focused on the present but the key parts of their future have to continue stepping up their play as well.

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