As a rookie, Deforest Buckner set some pretty high expectations for himself. He wanted six sacks and 70 tackles. He finished on point with six sacks and 73 tackles. That was not an underachieving expectation either; only a handful of rookies finished with seasons better than that. Despite all the fundamentals like run-stopping and pad level he had to work on, Buckner has made himself a solid pick for the San Francisco 49ers with those stats and he can only get better.
The one thing to consider with those stats though, is Buckner played a lot. At over 1,000 snaps, Buckner seemed to be doing iron mans every Sunday keeping up with Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense. That may explain why his 73 tackles were so high as a rookie and the 49ers indicate they want him getting breathers this year. Could that time off the field impact his stats?
At the same time, it will be interesting to see if these rest periods make him more explosive and cause him to be absolutely nasty on the field.
He met with the media this week following OTAs and had this to say:
First question was a bit muffled—something about issues with learning the new defense
I want to say the technique and the footwork. Different scheme obviously. Coaches want me to be penetrating more rather than reading and things I’m used to. When we started off, it was a little challenging at first, breaking my old habits, more reading on the line of scrimmage, but after these couple weeks and being with these coaches and taking their coaching and constructive criticism, everything’s been really good and I’m progressing and getting penetration into the backfield.
What’s it like lining up to Arik Armstead?
It’s nice having him out there again. He’s another big prescience and teams know what he’s capable of doing so having him out there helps me too.
Robert Salah said you guys look good getting off the bus, now it’s putting it together. Do you feel those steps being made?
Oh yeah, definitely, I feel our front seven could be flat out dominant this year. We have the talent to do it and put in the work. Just keep and try to own our jobs and a little bit of technique and the footwork I need to work on and some other stuff that some other guys have to work on. We keep going at it and working hard and owning those skills, and I feel like we’ll be a dominant front seven this year.
Jeff Zgonina said he wants to rotate a lot more and a thousand snaps for you in 15 games is probably too much, are you looking forward to that or is it going to be difficult to pull you off the field?
I feel like getting a rotation is a good idea for the D-line. There were times last year where I was dead tired and they wouldn’t take me out. I felt like I’m hurting the team more staying out there and not being to my full potential when I’m out there. When I’m going hard and the coach pulls me for a play or two to catch my breath and get back out there so I can be more efficient I definitely will take that.
Did you tap your helmet last year?
I tapped it once. Nobody came in for me. I never did it again.
What game did you tap it?
The Cardinals game. When we were in Arizona.
Does Arik, has he changed his lines? Slimmer?
Yeah, I think he at least dropped 10, 15 pounds. He’s looking good. Moving good. Even through college he was bigger than me, now I’m bigger than him, it’s weird.
Was that specifically with him rushing the edge in mind?
Yeah, he knew they were going to look at him more as a LEO, 5-tech kind of deal. So he took the right steps in the offseason to get his body right and being able to do what he’s told.
How familiar are you with Elvis [Dumervil]?
I’ve watched him play before. That guy is a motor. 99 sacks on his career, he’s going to help us get to the quarterback come 3rd down. Also, get on the edge so the quarterback can step up to me.
Have you had any interaction with Solomon Thomas for the last couple of weeks?
Yeah, me and Solomon text back and forth. He asks me little things he can do in the offseason, since he can’t be here. We went out to dinner as a d-line a week ago. We just wanted to get him involved so he’s not coming in June 15th the last day he’s here, not knowing anybody. Just wanted to have a good time and bond as a D-line.
Stick him with the bill?
Nah, we didn’t stick him with the bill. Can’t do that with his first time meeting us.
Are you going to Hawaii with Michael Bennett again this year?
Yes, like four of us, we’re going out to Hawaii on July 1st. we’ll be out there till I want to say the 24th. We’ll be out there training with him and some of the defensive linemen out there. Just before training camp so we can get right.
Who’s going with you?
Me, Ronald Blair, Eli Harold and Arik. Solomon said he might try to get out there too.