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DeForest Buckner: An extra step will be huge for my sack total

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If he can take that next step, it would be huge for the 49ers pass rush.

The San Francisco 49ers report for the offseason workout program on Monday, and they will open things with the strength and conditioning program. That portion lasts two weeks and will give Ray Wright and his staff a chance to start working the players back toward game shape. Most NFL players are able to spend the offseason working out and staying in shape, but there’s a difference between staying in good shape and getting back into game shape.

Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner had a chance earlier this week to talk about getting ready for the season. He was on hand for an announcement of events connected to the 2018-19 college football national championship game. Levi’s Stadium is the host stadium.

Buckner spoke with the Matts (Barrows, Maiocco) and said he has been working out with defensive lineman Ronald Blair, linebacker Eli Harold, and offensive lineman Erik Magnuson to prepare for the workout program. Strength coach Ray Wright will have plenty of drills to get them going next week, and Buckner told them they want to make sure, “we’re all not dying come week one with Ray Wright.”

The 49ers will be counting on Buckner taking a step forward, and he thinks he is close to breaking through on the sack front. Buckner led the NFL with 19 quarterback hits, but finished the season with only three sacks. He talked about having too many “almosts,” and with an extra step, “it definitely could have been 19 sacks or something.” He is spending this offseason trying to figure out what can help him close the deal a little more regularly.

“And I really think it’s going to help me this year, especially working this offseason, finding that extra step – whether it’s footwork, getting my strength up in my lower half. I’m working on everything I can to get that extra step so I can really finish those sacks.”

The 49ers re-signed Cassius Marsh and brought in Jerry Attaochu to compete as edge rushers. They have worked out and brought in LSU edge rusher Arden Key for a visit, and I can only imagine how much more work they’ve done on potential pass rushers.

Buckner could use a consistent pass rusher around him, but if he can find an extra step in his own game, that would be huge. I don’t know about 19 sacks, but given how close he is to taking that next step, you never know!