SANTA CLARA- If anyone is taking to the 49ers’ uptempo, get-after-’em defense, it’s second-year lineman DeForest Buckner. So much so, that offenses are devoting more attention to Buckner in the form of double teams.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said toward the end of the last game, the Cardinals were devoting double teams to Buckner and for good reason. Before Buckner’s one-sack performance in Arizona, he was leading all NFL linemen with 16 quarterback pressures.
But Buckner disagreed with Saleh about getting double-teamed at the end of the game.
“The last two minutes?” Buckner laughed. “How about the whole game! I asked the center, ‘Are you going to help out on the other side?’ He said, ‘Nah, I’m going to slide to you every time.”
During a four-man rush, a center can either help the guard to his left or right in blocking the defensive tackles. Against the 49ers, Cardinals’ center A.Q. Shipley was helping on Buckner every time.
“He’s starting to get attention and the attention’s only going to get greater,” Saleh said about his prized defensive lineman. The 49ers have responded by changing up their fronts to try and free up Buckner. However, Saleh admitted that the other solution was for the other three defensive linemen to win their single blocks.
Buckner said he’s excelling in his second season in the league. He’s also fitting perfectly into Saleh’s scheme. Last year, Buckner and the rest of the line was taught to read whether it was run or pass, and then determine where the play was going before reacting. Saleh doesn’t care where the play is headed, he just wants his linemen to get up field at all costs. By doing so, the play will detonate because of the constant pressure.
“The scheme too, being more of an attacking style defense, allows me to open up all that much more instead of read and reacting at the line of scrimmage,” Buckner said.
Buckner’s constant quarterback pressures finally paid off in his first sack of the season in Arizona. He responded with a sack dance that looked as if he was shoveling snow. Actually it was homage to the old Apollo television show, when they swept boring performers off the stage.
“It’s really a broom and I am sweeping them off the field,” Buckner said.
However with offenses adjusting to Buckner, that sweeping might be harder to come by.