For the second straight offseason, San Francisco 49ers defensive linemen DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead are in Hawaii working out with Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett. Eli Harold and Ronald Blair are on hand as well, with the group working on improving for the upcoming season.
Bennett is holding a youth football camp this weekend, and in doing some PR for that (vide above), he had a chance to discuss the work he has been doing with the 49ers players. Bennett was effusive in his praise for Buckner. He talked about Buckner’s freakish skillset, and said he thinks it will eventually translate into a Defensive Player of the Year Award.
"I'm lucky to be working with a guy like that. I think DeForest will eventually be a Defensive Player of the Year. I think he has the talent to be able to do that. I think his physique — I keep telling him there's nobody like him. He's not normal. His body, his physique, his speed, it's not normal. So when you're not normal you can do not normal things and winning defensive MVP is not normal for most people. I think he has the capability of doing that."
Buckner was appreciative of the compliment. He talked about the importance of continuing to work, even during a holiday.
"That's what gives me a lot of confidence. Having a guy like him saying that I could be a potential MVP of the league one year? I mean, that means a lot. It makes me want to grind harder.”
“Just because it’s the holiday, I mean that doesn’t mean we can take the day off. We're all out here trying to get better and Mike is out here working too. We just gotta learn from the great ones and he's an All-Pro, he's a Super Bowl champ, and he's out here working on the holiday, so we gotta be out here too trying to hone our craft.”
Working out with great players doesn’t guarantee a player will become great himself. However, it reflects upon the drive of the player. Buckner had a solid rookie season, and will look to build on it in a simplified defense under new coordinator Robert Saleh. Defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina has said Buckner won’t be stuck getting nearly as many snaps as he had last year. It will be interesting to see how the 49ers rotate him with Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead, Earl Mitchell, Ronald Blair, and others. A fresher Buckner could be big for the defense in 2017.