Just when you thought you had everything figured out, life throws you a curve. In sort of the same way, the San Francisco 49ers surprised just about everybody in the football world when they defeated their long time rivals, the Seattle Seahawks. Like most rivalries, this one was fought in the trenches and DeForest Buckner’s stout performance led the way on Sunday.
The third year player had arguably the best game of his career with eleven combined tackles and two sacks. His mere presence kept Seattle’s offensive line guessing and would make it uncomfortable for Russell Wilson for most of the day. Buckner’s performance was infectious, lifting the play of his teammates around him. Fellow defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead, Ronald Blair, and D.J. Jones all gave strong performances.
The 49ers made Buckner the seventh overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, joining former Oregon teammate Arik Armstead who was selected 17th overall the previous year. In his rookie season, Buckner led all defensive lineman in snaps, with 1108 in 15 games. He ranked second in tackles with 79 and was ranked fourth among rookies with six sacks.
Athlon Sports rated Buckner the 4th best defensive tackle in September…
Although production dipped in his second NFL season, Buckner has emerged as San Francisco’s top defensive lineman among a group that includes two other recent first-round picks in Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas.
NFL Analyst and former Pro Bowl center Shaun O’Hara rated Buckner the 6th best defensive tackle back in May…
A top-10 draft pick in 2016, Buckner has done a nice job applying pressure from the inside (including nine sacks in two seasons and 24 QB hits in 2017 alone), despite not being flanked by the best defensive talent in San Francisco. With John Lynch improving the supporting cast, we could be in for a real breakout season from Buckner in 2018.
There was never any doubt that Buckner had the potential to be a super star in this league, now he’s proving it on the field. Buckner has 38 tackles and 11 sacks so far this season, with two more games remaining those numbers are sure to increase.
The steady recognition in the media along with his continuous ascension on the field will surely get Buckner to the recognition he deserves, but most importantly should solidly the 49ers’ defense for years to come. If the 49ers pick up the 5th year of his rookie contract, Buckner won’t become a free agent until 2021. I would expect the 49ers’ front office to extend him before that.
Deforest Buckner has been one of very few bright spots for the 49ers since they drafted him. As he comes of age in the NFL the hope is he can also be a beacon among his peers, attracting other blue chip players. The 49ers still have a lot of holes to fill and will need a full off-season to add to their arsenal. With additional weapons on defense it’s only logical to assume that Buckner will get even better.
- ^Lowder, Rob (January 17, 2017). “49ers DeForest Buckner selected to All-Rookie team”. Ninerswire.usatoday.com, Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- ^Athlon Sports (September 3, 2018). “NFL Defensive Linemen Rankings for 2018”. Athlonsports.com. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- ^O’Hara, Shaun (May 18, 2018). “Aaron Donald headlines NFL’s top 10 defensive tackles for 2018”. NFL.com. Retrieved December 18, 2018.