So after much pondering of the fact that the net static friction force points in the center, perpendicular the tangential motion, I thought of this explanation.
If we look at a car travelling around a circle, the wheels are always turned. There is a static friction force causing the tires to rotate, pointing in the same direction as the tires. There is also a force of static friction that causes the wheels to not slide. The wheels would like to move in the direction tangential to the circle due to inertia, and static friction also wants to stop this, so it'll oppose the inertia. This force must be acting tangential to the circle but in the opposite direction. The vector sum of these forces then must equal the centripetal force.
Is this a correct explanation? No instructor has ever explained how these two forces add together so I'm not sure if I'm correct in my thinking. Thank you!