The San Francisco 49ers’ defense made a statement against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, and no player grabbed the spotlight quite like defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.
The 49ers’ first round draft choice in 2016 earned a 90.8 overall game grade from Pro Football Focus, and earned PFF’s Game Ball for his outstanding performance against the Seahawks. Though the 49ers’ lost 12-9, Buckner and the rest of San Francisco’s defense gave head coach Kyle Shanahan plenty of reason to be optimistic moving forward.
On Wednesday morning, Buckner joined Murph & Mac on KNBR and detailed what’s clicked for him this season, and why he’s become one of the leading forces for the 49ers’ defensive front during his second year in the NFL.
“Last year, I feel like the game was kind of fast for me and it took awhile to get slowed down,” Buckner said. “This year, the game has really slowed down for me and I’m really more comfortable and the scheme, it’s different you know, it’s more of an attack type of scheme. Last year was a read and react, so it’s able to not just me, but allow everybody on the defense to make plays. So when a play comes your way you know you’ve got to make that play. Sometimes you might not even get another opportunity because the defense is meant for everybody to make plays.”
According to PFF, Buckner’s 68 snaps against the Seahawks led all of San Francisco’s defensive linemen, and his 121 snaps through two games rank third among interior linemen around the NFL. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has indicated he’d like to keep Buckner’s snap count down in the coming weeks, but if the Oregon product continues to perform so effectively, it’s hard to envision the 49ers taking him off the field more often.
“We don’t really talk about the number of snaps before the game or anything like that throughout the week. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot you know, the first drive of the game. We could have gotten a three-and-out, just execution-wise and some penalties, especially on third downs made the drives longer. If we play fundamentally sound football and get off the field when we need to, I wouldn’t have so much of the snap count. We just got to take care of business on defense.”
To listen to Murph & Mac’s interview with Buckner, click the podcast link below. To hear Buckner describe his 2017 improvements, skip ahead to the 4:02 mark.