The San Francisco 49ers are by definition a young team and they have some players with bright futures even with their youth being considered. One of the obvious ones is Reuben Foster who has come off an incredible rookie season despite injuries to become one of the NFL’s elite linebackers. So much that he made ESPN’s under-25 starting lineup. The lineup is, as it says, composed of players under the age of 25. Here’s what they said about Foster:
Foster’s NFL career is young, but what already stood out was his feel for finding the football. The 24-year-old must stay healthy and will serve a two-game suspension to begin the season, but he could emerge as San Francisco’s best defensive player.
It’s an obvious choice, given the accolades Foster has received. What’s disturbing about this list isn’t who’s on it, but who isn’t. If you look at the defensive interior, you’ll see DeForest Buckner’s name doesn’t even get listed as a runner up. New Orleans Saints DT Sheldon Rankins, and New York Jets DT Leonard Williams made the lineup with Washington’s Jonathan Allen coming in as a runner up.
No DeForest Buckner.
This wouldn’t really be so alarming if it wasn’t for the fact it’s playing into the narrative that the 49ers defensive tackle simply doesn’t get any respect. Fooch mentioned this a few weeks ago, but this seems to go along with the fact that when you think of the 49ers defense, the general media seems to focus on Richard Sherman and Reuben Foster.
Does Buckner need to be on the actual lineup? Not really. But making it as a runner up shouldn’t be out of the question. Especially when he’s considered one of the best defensive tackles in the league, period.