The San Francisco 49ers hit the practice field for the first time on Sunday, and DeForest Buckner gets to take his next steps towards a prominent role in the defense. The 49ers spent a first round pick on Buckner, but worked him into things fairly slowly in OTAs and minicamp. Buckner opened with the third string defense, and worked his way up to the second unit by minicamp.
Buckner met with the media on Saturday, and he discussed his offseason workouts with Michael Bennett and Arik Armstead, getting ready for Chip Kelly practices, and his goals for the upcoming season. He said one particular goal of his is to win rookie of the year. There’s a lot of talent in this year’s rookie class, but Buckner is viewed as being as pro ready as any of them. If he focuses on nickel and dime packages, he could very well accrue some of the counting stats (sacks, most notably) that can help push him toward the award.
Here’s a full transcript of his session, and you can view video here.
On his time in Hawaii before training camp:
It was great. I got to spend some time with my family. Arik came out with me, my girlfriend came out with me, so it was a good time.
On workouts on the beach:
Yea, yea. We worked out with Michael Bennett, and some other guys that came to train. It was a good experience.
On if Bennett had tips for him about the NFL, football life:
Oh yea, he definitely taught me and Arik a bunch. Kinda brought us under his wing for the couple days we was working out with him. Even though he plays for the Seahawks, he was really good help, helping us on our pass rush game.
On learning any specific moves:
Uh, just a bunch of different moves, working on our hands, making it more natural, so that when we get in situations in a game, we know what to do.
On best advice he’s received for training camp:
Uh, the best advice? Come in shape. I mean, training camp is supposed to be really one of the hardest parts of the year, so just coming in mentally and physically ready. That was the best advice I could get.
On having new defensive coordinator, and how different the scheme is:
I would say it’s pretty similar to what we ran at Oregon. Obviously different terminology and all that stuff, but it’s pretty similar. A lot more, we’re definitely putting in a lot more guys, pressure-wise, but everything’s pretty much the same.
On where he needs to improve to get playing time as a rookie:
I would say, just uh, pass rushing. This game’s all about, on the D-line, it’s all about who can get to the quarterback. I’ve been really working on that this offseason. I just want to go to work this camp.
On any message from Chip Kelly on day one:
He hasn’t spoken in front of the team yet. I think next meeting.
On if he had ideas how to be in shape having worked with Kelly before:
Oh yea, just normal stuff. Cardio and all that stuff. I’m used to the fast paced training that Chip does, being at Oregon. I kinda know what to expect, practice-wise.
On low expectations for the team this year:
I mean it’s a new year, you know? Anything can happen with a new year. And a lot of guys are coming in really confident and just ready to go. Excited to go to work. Just start off on the right foot this year.
On expectations for a line rotation:
I mean I’m not, I’m new and everything. I think they’ll suit up five or six guys, maybe, for the d-line. Obviously it’s a small rotation, so I’m going to do everything I can do to be in that rotation, to get as much playing time as I can, and show the coaches that I’m valuable for the team.
On height on the line and if they are doing things to work on leverage:
You know, Coach Azz, he likes guys with long arms. So he really focuses on the little details when it comes to practice and in our individual periods, how to use our weapons, which is our long arms, and especially during the run game. He does a really good job of helping us use our weapons.
On one particular goal for this season:
I would say, to be honest, to be rookie of the year. That’s my goal.
On what players he watches on tape:
I would say Calais Campbell. Even at Oregon, coach Ron, he coached him and everything, and he kind of compared me to him a little bit, so I just wanted to see things, where I could pick up, and how to imitate.