Former 49ers star defensive tackle DeForest Buckner held a conference call Wednesday morning with the Bay Area media to discuss everything from leaving the 49ers to his role in the Colts’ locker room.
Buckner said he knew about the trade a week in advance:
“I kind of knew a week or so in advance that it was a possibility. It’s just part of the business. They just told us to look at trade options. I ended up here in Indianapolis.”
He also found out about how the business side of the NFL works:
“It really did teach me a lot about the business side of it. I feel like I did the right things on and off the field. Obviously, I wanted to be there long term... that’s the thing that kind of sucks with the whole salary cap situation.”
Buckner talked about how you want to play for the team that drafted him. He also said he offered to meet general manager John Lynch in the middle and was willing to agree to a deal for less than what his agent told DeFo he was worth. But, unfortunately, the Niners didn’t have the wiggle room to make a deal happen:
“Someway, somehow, I want to be here, but I didn’t want to take too big of a pay cut because I know what I’m actually worth.”
Earlier this week, Jimmie Ward spoke about how the Rams manipulate cap space all of the time to make deals work. Here’s Buckner’s answer to Ward’s statement:
“Initially, I was like, man; the Chiefs did it. Tampa Bay did it. The Rams did it. People put the effort to find a way, and some guys don’t, and it just doesn’t go your way.”
Buckner said the 49ers didn’t offer him anywhere near a contract worth four years, $84 million. This feels like stubbornness from the 49ers. It sounded like, the way Buckner told the story, the 49ers made up their mind to trade their superstar, and there was nothing that was going to happen that would have changed their mind.
If you want to keep a player, then you find a way to keep them. It seems pretty straightforward. We’ve seen times where it goes the other way, and teams hold onto a guy for too long. This...is nothing like those situations.
Is this topic beating a dead horse? Probably, but this was always going to come up again whenever Buckner returned.
Buckner admitted he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder for Sunday’s matchup:
“It lit a fire under me. It made me want to prove not just to them, but to the Colts, that they were getting a hell of player... just proving to the Colts that this is why you paid me.”
Throughout the 15-minute call, Buckner added that the 49ers' offense resembled the Ravens' offense with Trey Lance under center. Even with the time that has passed by with the trade, you could tell that Buckner felt like he wasn’t taken care of by the team. In fairness, he has a point. Buckner is a high-character guy who was a leader in the locker room and a damn good football player whose availability was never in question.
Buckner has turned the page and is in a good place now. It was also evident that he’s fired up for his return to Levi’s Stadium Sunday. The timing of this couldn’t have happened at a worse time as there have been numerous questions and complaints about the 49ers coaching staff. Now, we get to rehash the boldest move this regime made.