The San Francisco 49ers will have some internal decisions to make this offseason, and figuring out what’s next with defensive tackle DeForest Buckner is among the biggest. At the very least, we know they will exercise his fifth year option before the May deadline. Buckner is signed through the 2019 season, and the option covers 2020.
Beyond that, they have to decide how soon they want to try and get him extended long term. Buckner is aware of the business side of things, and told the beat writers on Thursday he has begun talking with his agent about next steps (via Eric Branch).
“I talked to my agent in the past couple weeks (and) he’s going to come out in the offseason and we’re going to talk a little more,” Buckner said. “Right now, that’s something that I don’t know and we’re going to figure (it) out during the offseason.”
On Friday, general manager John Lynch made his bi-weekly KNBR appearance, and he offered a shocking comment:
“I’m sure it won’t be cheap.”
Buckner has broken out in a big way this season, turning last year’s quarterback hurries and knockdowns into sacks. A year ago, he had 29 hurries and 19 hits, but finished the season with four sacks. This year, he has 31 hurries and eight hits, but has a career-high 11 sacks with two games remaining. The presence was there, but as Robert Saleh has said over and over again, Buckner has found that extra half step to close the deal. He’s disengaging and getting off his blockers quicker, which gives him that extra second to get to the quarterback.
If the 49ers add a significant edge rusher in the 2019 NFL Draft or free agency, one could imagine his numbers increasing by a considerable amount. He faces double-teams with regularity, and a dominant edge rusher could potentially make Buckner’s life a little bit easier. Sacks are not the only measurement of pass rush success, but when it comes to contracts, it helps.
With all that in mind, if you’re the 49ers, do you try and get a deal done now before Buckner is potentially reaching 15-20 sacks and that much more pressure? If you’re Buckner, do you try and take the proverbial bird in the hand this offseason, or figure things will only improve with a boost in pass rush and secondary help? Any deal this offseason requires both sides want to get it done, but how would you want to handle it if you were on each side?