The 2016 season is winding down for the San Francisco 49ers and there really isn’t much to get excited about with the play and roster on the field. One of the few solid additions was 2016’s first round pick DeForest Buckner.
Buckner was nominated for a rookie of the week award for his performance against the New York Jets in Week 14. He had 11 tackles, two sacks, and two tackles for a loss in his best performance of the season. However, Buckner has been developing throughout the year, and it has been solid for his first season as a pro.
He entered the season with lofty goals, too. He told the media earlier this week that his pre-season plan was for six sacks and 70 tackles. He’s on pace to surpass those goals, currently having five sacks and 65 tackles (counting assists), and that’s not too shabby. He still needs to work a bit on his run blocking, but he’s flashed some glimmers of being an absolute monster. When Arik Armstead returns, this defensive line will be an intriguing one to watch out for. Especially if the 49ers draft defensive line in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Here’s the full transcript of his interview with the media:
Both Chip Kelly and Jim O’Neil called Sunday’s game your best of the season. Two sacks, four quarterback hits, 11 tackles. Do you feel like it was your best game of the season?
Yeah, definitely. Feel like it was my best game of the season, so far. Definitely a switch for coach Azz [49ers Defensive Line Coach Jerry Azzinaro]teaching us more of a 1-gap technique defense than his usual 2-gap and he’s been doing a real good job helping us through all of those techniques.
What’s clicked for you throughout this season.
Just getting used to the workload that the coaches gave to me. Getting used to the amount of snaps I’m taking and making most of them.
Do you ever get tired?
Yeah, I get tired sometimes, I just got to push through it.
What’s your pre-game meal? Is there a special recipe to this?
There’s no special recipe. Usually on gameday, I don’t eat a lot before games. Just put that in my stomach and everything, I just go out there. A little pasta, but that’s about it.
Jim O’Neil said you’re getting better with your pre-snap reads in terms of diagnosing what coverage are, is that preparation throughout the week helping you?
Yeah, looking back on my notes, whenever we have defensive meetings, I’m taking a lot of notes, like you said, my pre-snap reads, I’m not just looking at what my man-key is telling me—I’m looking at the whole formation. Trying to diagnose everything and limiting to what plays we can get.
Jim O’Neil also said that it’s rare for a guy your size to have the stamina that you have. Did you always have that?
Yeah, back at Oregon, the coaches had me going around 80 or 90 plays a game my senior year. So I’m kind of used to it from that aspect, but the NFL is a whole different monster; the guys are bigger, faster, so I’m getting used to that too.
You think you’ll run a marathon anytime soon?
Nah, I’m good.
Do you think any of the stamina comes from basketball? That’s a stamina sport.
Oh yeah, definitely. All through high school I played basketball to keep me in shape for football season so it’s definitely helped me at a young age.
Did you come into this year with any goals? Numbers you were looking for in terms of sacks, tackles?
Personally, I wanted to get six sacks my rookie year as a personal goal. And I’m almost there. Honestly, three games left, I can try to get more than that. And I wanted to get around 70 tackles so, I’m on course for that.
You were walking around in a boot, that appeared to be a serious injury but you only missed one game. How did you pull that off?
A lot of rehab. I went to rehab, the trainers all got me healthy again, and I thank them for that. It sucked getting hurt and I thought it was going to be more serious than it was, but that week that I got off, I tried to make the most of it and get back healthy.
Did they initially say, ‘Hey, you’re going to be out this amount of time’, or did you get a timeline of information?
They kind of wanted to see how I felt really, but I gave them a timeline of what I wanted and I just pushed for it.
You gave them a timeline?
Did it bother you for a while?
Yeah, it was bothering me for a while. But you gotta push through it.
Jim O’Neil said you were a building block of this defense. Are you coming into your own and can you use this to springboard into next season?
Yeah. And the guys around me who helped me get success. Like Dorse (49ers Nose Tackle Glenn Dorsey) taking on double teams so I can come free on the backside. Stuff like that. A lot of the guys around me, helping me become that building block.
Ronald Blair is also seeing his snap count increase. What do you see from him?
Ron’s doing a really good job especially throughout the week preparing himself. He knows he’s coming in on pass rushing situations and we’ve been working really well together on pass rushing downs. The communication is really good and I’m excited to see more.