San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner has perhaps the highest ceiling of all the players on the defensive line, but he also appears to have the highest floor. Through three games, Buckner has unquestionably been the best player on the defensive side of the ball.
On Friday, Pro Football Focus’ Jeff Deeney Tweeted that Buckner’s 16 quarterback pressures (10 hurries, six quarterback hits) are the most in the NFL among all interior defenders.
We’ve talked about Buckner plenty over the first three weeks. His role will be even more important going forward with Tank Carradine out with an injury and rookie Solomon Thomas starting on the line. It would be nice, though, if Buckner could seal the deal and actually bring down the quarterbacks.
Either way, I expect an up-and-down kind of season from the defense as a whole, and especially from the pass rush. Robert Saleh is still learning as a defensive coordinator, and the 49ers are now without three defensive starters — there’s bound to be mistakes.
But for now, Buckner has been absolutely fantastic and he’s definitely someone you should keep your eyes on going forward.
The 49ers are losing players drafted by Trent Baalke at a fairly regular rate, but I’m not worried about Buckner. He was an obvious draft choice, and he’s a great fit for what the 49ers want to do going forward.