The NFL Network concluded their annual Top-100 list and a couple San Francisco 49ers names made it on this year. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo came in at No. 90, and cornerback Richard Sherman clocked in at No. 64. It would have been nice to see Joe Staley on the list, but beggars can’t be choosers. One name that should have been was DeForest Buckner.
But that’s just not happening.
Considering Pro Football Focus ranked Buckner No. 43 in their top 50 players for 2018 list, one has to wonder what gives when the NFL has 100 slots instead of 50. Buckner led interior defensive linemen in QB hits, was fifth in QB pressures, and had a higher percentage of positive PFF grades when lined up at defensive left tackle than everybody but Aaron Donald.
Then again, the voting with the NFL list is pretty nebulous and the list takes on the form of having more of a popularity contest than anything else. Richard Sherman and Jimmy Garoppolo both made the list. Deserving, yes, but one is one of the more outspoken characters in football (though returning from an injury where he missed playing time in 2017 and we don’t what will happen in 2018) while the other has five highlight reels to his name and been selling enough merchandise he’d make a WWE wrestler green with envy.
Buckner on the other hand is a lot more humble. Sure, 49ers fans love him, and he has his moments photo bombing teammates, but he’s not pushing merchandise, and as an interior lineman he’s not really on an island, yet. Even if his teammates are calling him “DPOY” some odds don’t even list him as a sleeper for the award.
Obviously, 49ers fans can’t get the whole team on the list, but it seems a bit strange that Buckner, who has so many great stats to his name and has been anchoring the 49ers interior line, couldn’t even crack the high 90s.