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DeForest Buckner on Arik Armstead, sled workouts, working in 49ers rotation

The San Francisco 49ers rookie defensive tackle met with the media during minicamp. We’ve got a full transcript, and you can watch his media session here.

The San Francisco 49ers finished up minicamp this week, but while veterans depart until the start of training camp, rookies will be sticking around the facility for one more week. First round pick DeForest Buckner will be around as he continues to work his way up the depth chart. He spent OTAs working with the third team defensive unit, but started to climb the depth chart in minicamp. He should be getting significant snaps sooner rather than later, but in the meantime, he continues working his way up.

Buckner met with the during minicamp, and discussed how things have gone thus far. He talked about working with his former college defensive line coach, being reunited with Arik Armstead, and what it’s like moving from starting work to more of a rotation role. We got to learn a little about how some of the drills work with the sleds, and where on the line he can line up. It’s not a ton of detail, but it’s a little insight into Buckner’s time thus far.

Here’s the full transcript.

Jumped in after question:

It’s everything I expected. Everybody’s working at a high pace. Everything’s new to everybody, so everybody’s trying to understand the defense, offensive guys are trying to understand the offense and everything with the whole practice and how fast-paced it is. I think so far, everything is looking pretty good.

On how Jerry Azzinaro treats him and Armstead given history at Oregon:

The same since he first had us our freshman year of college. Coach Azz, he’s a great coach. He’s the reason why I committed to Oregon, well, a major reason why I committed to Oregon. And he likes to make a personal connection with everybody. He likes to know his players and everything, and get a connection with them, and help them build as a man off the field and a man on the field.

On Armstead improvement since last time they were together:

I mean, he got even better than he was before. I’m catching up with him. It was always a friendly competition back at Oregon. We’d always come off to the sideline, who can get to the quarterback first, stuff like that. Arik, he’s doing really well. He’s built as a player on and off the field. I’m just following his footsteps right now since he’s got a year over me, and so I’m just following what him and the other veterans do.

On what they are trying to work on as they’re hitting the sled:

Just our basic fundamentals. And just imagining the blocks. The sled doesn’t move, so you have to imagine the guard or the tackle trying to cut you off, or do fan block on you, stuff like that. You have to have imagine when you’re working the sled.

On if different sleds teach different techniques:

It’s all about the technique. Coach wants to work on striking wide, tight strikes. Just getting our pre-snap routine down, where we line up for the run game, stuff like that.

On if NaVorro Bowman is the vocal defensive leader:

Oh yea, definitely. When Bo speaks, everybody listens. He has that type of leadership, and he’s a great leader to follow.

On if he feels more comfortable since showing up:

Oh yea, definitely. All the veterans, they’ve embraced all the rookies really well, and made it a comfortable environment for everybody. We’re all comfortable with each other, getting to know a lot more guys on the team. Couldn’t ask for a better place.

On if he’s mostly inside in sub-package, or if he’s gotten DE work:

I’m mostly working in sub-packages, and even in nickel, we can slide around anywhere on the line. It just depends on the call.

On if he’s comfortable in 3-technique vs. 4-technique, and what he brings to the table:

I’m comfortable in 4, or 5, or 3, because I’ve played it my whole life, and I’m comfortable in any of those spots. I just think I can bring versatility lining up in those different spots. Just using my athleticism, for how big I am.

On plans next two months:

I’m gonna go home (Hawaii) for a little bit, but I’m also gonna keep up with my training. Me and Arik was just discussing that today, figuring out where we can work out at.

What did they decide:

Not sure yet. It’s still a discussion. I don’t want to be home and be too comfortable at home, I wanna be somewhere I can keep my eye on the prize.

On if Armstead is stronger than when they played together in Oregon:

Yea. I mean, that year in the league, it’s gonna change you no matter what. He’s bigger, stronger, faster. I just gotta catch up.

On going from starter to rotation, and if there’s an adjustment:

Honestly, throughout my career, I’ve rotated a lot, whether I was coming in with the 2s or the 1s with the 2s coming in for us. Last year was just a, our coach, he wanted to keep me in the whole time, so that was the most snaps I’ve ever had all year. So, it’s not gonna be a bad adjustment for me rotating this year. I’m looking forward to it, but I just can’t wait to get on the field.

On facing former DL now OL Alex Balducci:

Yea, it was weird the first couple days going against Ducci. Just because he’s been on my side the past four years, and going against him when he was at guard, it’s different. But can’t let up because he’s my friend. It’s still competition. He makes better, and I make him better every day.

On if he’s seen growth in Balducci on OL:

Oh yea, definitely. He’s looking like a natural, to be honest, at guard. He’s working every day at his craft. For the short period of time he’s been playing o-line, he’s looking good.

On shoulder pain in previous practice:

I just got dinged up, somebody’s helmet went into my collarbone. I’m good.