The Pro Football Writers of America announced their 2016 rookie awards, and San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner earned a spot on their all-rookie team. PFWA voted Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott rookie of the year and offensive rookie of the year. They voted then San Diego Chargers defensive lineman Joey Bosa defensive rookie of the year.
Buckner joins Bosa, Chris Jones (Chiefs), and Yannick Ngakoue (Jaguars) on the all-rookie defensive line. Buckner finished the season with 73 total tackles, six sacks, and two fumble recoveries. He led all defensive linemen in snaps, in spite of missing a game due to injury. He was one of the few bright spots on a defense that was historically bad in most facets of the game.
The 49ers are still searching for a GM and head coach, but Buckner is a solid piece on the line to build around. The 49ers spent first round picks on Buckner and Arik Armstead the past two seasons. The rookie wage scale negotiated in 2011 means contracts are relatively easy to get out of, but I would think in rebuilding this defense, the next coach and personnel department will start with those two and build out.
Here’s the full roster of PFWA rookie honorees.
2016 PFWA ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
2016 PFWA OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
2016 PFWA DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: DE Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers
QB – Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
RB – Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys; Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
WR – Sterling Shepard, New York Giants; Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
TE – Hunter Henry, San Diego Chargers
C – Cody Whitehair, Chicago Bears
G – Joe Thuney, New England Patriots; Laremy Tunsil, Miami Dolphins
T – Jack Conklin, Tennessee Titans; Taylor Decker, Detroit Lions
DL – Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers; DeForest Buckner, San Francisco 49ers; Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs; Yannick Ngakoue, Jacksonville Jaguars
LB – Jatavis Brown, San Diego Chargers; Leonard Floyd, Chicago Bears; Deion Jones, Atlanta Falcons
CB – Vernon Hargreaves III, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars
S – Karl Joseph, Oakland Raiders; Keanu Neal, Atlanta Falcons
PK – Wil Lutz, New Orleans Saints
P – Riley Dixon, Denver Broncos
KR – Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
PR – Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
ST – Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs