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49ers draft pick DeForest Buckner was 'praying to be reunited' with former Oregon teammate, coaches

The San Francisco 49ers landed a big addition to their defensive line, and DeForest Buckner is excited to be reunited with his former coach.

The San Francisco 49ers added DeForest Buckner to their defensive line on Thursday, and the newest member of the team had a chance to discuss the pick. He conducted a conference call shortly after the pick, and the 49ers PR department passed along this transcript.

Buckner said he last spoke with the 49ers at the NFL Combine, but that his agent had heard a little bit from them. Given his extensive history with Chip Kelly and defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro, there really was no need for extensive meetings or workouts. And the connection with the two coaches and Arik Armstead has Buckner psyched about coming to the Bay Area.

How are you doing?

"I'm doing great. I'm doing great. I'm happy to be a part of Niner Nation now."

You're in Hawaii?

"Yes, sir."

Did they throw a party for you over there?

"Yeah, my mom got a party all arranged and everything, so I have a bunch of my friends and family here celebrating."

How do you feel about reuniting with DL Arik Armstead on the 49ers defensive line?

"Man, I'm probably the happiest guy in the draft right now being reunited with Arik. Having that history with him back in Oregon, we're good friends. We've been talking about it a little bit throughout the draft process. So, I'm excited, I'm ready to go and try to be a part of this team and help win some games."

Did you have an inkling that if you were there the 49ers would keep you from getting to number eight?

"I don't know. My agent was telling me that he was talking to the Niners a little bit. I was praying after [San Diego Chargers DE Joey] Bosa going to number three, because everybody was talking about San Diego. But, I was praying to be reunited with Arik and coach [49ers head coach Chip] Kelly and [49ers defensive line] coach [Jerry] Azzinaro."

Did you take a visit to Santa Clara at all before the draft?

"No, I didn't."

Do you think that's just because those guys were already so familiar with you that, that was unnecessary?

"Yeah, I think because they already knew who I was. Coach Kelly and coach Az, they both recruited me and everything. I feel like they already knew who I was as a person, so there wasn't much to get to know."

What has Arik told you about the 49ers organization and what you're coming into?

"They haven't told me much. They just told me that they are excited to be reunited. It's funny how everything worked out and how we can be reunited. Like I said before, I'm humbled and I'm ready to go."

Before today, before they called to tell you that you were the pick, when was the last time you talked to either Azzinaro or Chip Kelly?

"At the combine."

Oh, really?


Were you kind of feeling kind of shunned that they weren't talking to you at all?

"No, because I know coach Az and coach Kelly. Like I said before, they both know who I am as a person because they both recruited me. I didn't feel shunned at all. They talked to me a little bit at the combine and I just kind of let things take its place."

What other teams were interested in you during the draft process?

"San Diego was actually showing a lot of love throughout the process and also Dallas was showing some love and Jacksonville and Tennessee. All the team's that I visited."

You made four visits?


Can you describe how your style of play is different or similar to Arik's?

"We're both similar in size and everything. We both played in the same scheme and everything. I feel like I'm really aggressive. He's aggressive too, but I'm also really aggressive. I like to use my hands a lot in the pass-rush game. I also really like to use a lot of power in my game too, but also at the same time when guys expect power I'm using my athleticism, because I'm pretty athletic for my size and using speed with my hands."

Are you more comfortable on one side or the other?

"I can play on both. Whatever side they need me on, I can play both. I'm comfortable on both sides."

Did you mostly play on the right side with the Ducks?

"This year, yes."

What about when you played with Arik on the same line?

"Every year was different. So, one year he'd have something wrong, you know? Like, his freshman year, he hurt his pinky. So, he had to stay on the right side the whole time. So, I stayed on the left. Sophomore year we switched back and forth and then junior year, he had something else wrong so he stayed on the left side the whole time and I stayed on the right side the whole time. So, I played both."

Whose voice did you hear first when the 49ers made the call to you?

"They put coach Kelly on the phone."

And who else did you talk to during that phone call?

"It was pretty loud so I couldn't really hear who the other person was on the phone, to be honest. My family was all yelling in the background so I couldn't hear."

Where in Hawaii are you?

"I'm back home on Oahu."

Was part of the reason they're celebrating because you were drafted by a California team? I guess that's the closest possibly you could be to Hawaii.

"I know. They're all excited. A lot of my family actually are San Francisco fans. So, they're all really happy. They had a flag and everything out after I got selected. They're really excited. My parents especially were praying that it would be a West Coast team because it's so close to Hawaii."

Would you say that's the most popular NFL team in Hawaii?

"Oh, it's definitely. San Francisco's definitely one of the most popular teams in Hawaii."

You got invited to Chicago, did you?

"Yeah, I got invited."

And obviously, you wanted to be at home, but did you consider going to Chicago or was it just a no brainer?

"I definitely considered it. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, but you know with things that were happing and everything I just felt like it was a better decision to stay home with my family."

Now that you're in the NFL, how do you envision your career playing out? What are the biggest goals for you?

"My biggest goal is just to help turn around the club and you know, allow us to win a bunch of games and ultimately win the Super Bowl. So, just being one of the best in my position. Leaving a legacy behind and being one of the greats."

How much platooning would you guys do at Oregon along the defensive line over the last few years?

"Yeah, especially my freshman year and sophomore year, we platooned a lot, switching in and out so we can have guys fresh. After losing some veterans this year, my coach, we had a bunch of young guys on the D-Line so my coach didn't really have the trust that he had with the guys before. So, this year, he kept me in a lot more and I got a lot more snaps."

Did you feel like the fast pace of the Oregon offense put more pressure on the Oregon defense? You guys ended up playing more snaps or anything like that?

"Yeah, definitely at times it kind of hurt us on our defense because they were scoring so fast and we just get right back on the field. But, you know, that's why we practice against them every day, to get our conditioning up and everything and be in shape."

How did you feel at the end of the year? I read something that you had the second most defensive snaps in the country.

"Yeah, it's crazy. I didn't even realize I had that many snaps under my belt at the end of the year, but it's pretty crazy to say I was one of the top two guys with the most snaps."