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John Lynch reflects on decision to trade DeForest Buckner

© Mark J. Rebilas | 2020 Dec 13

A lot of 49ers fans wish the 49ers never traded DeForest Buckner. It sounded like Buckner wished it never happened either when he spoke to the media this week.

“It really did teach me a lot about the business side of things,” Buckner said. “I felt like I did all the right things on and off the field. Obviously, I wanted to be there long term. The team that drafted me, the organization that drafted me, and when you’re drafted to an organization, your initial thoughts are, ‘I want to be here until I retire,’ but I mean, unfortunately, it didn’t shake out that way. That’s just the nature of the business and the thing that kind of sucks with the whole salary cap situation.”

It’s a move that doesn’t really seem to have worked out for the 49ers. Their line hasn’t been the same since losing Buckner. The team made the choice to keep the cheaper Arik Armstead instead (even though Buckner says he was willing to take less money), who while being extremely good isn’t quite as dynamic.

The 49ers drafted Buckner’s replacement (after trading down) Javon Kinlaw with the pick the acquired in the deal. Kinlaw has looked good when healthy. The problem is, he’s been dealing with knee issues for nearly his entire 49ers tenure.

General manager John Lynch hopped on Murph & Mac Friday morning to reflect on the Buckner trade, ahead of the 49ers-Colts clash this Sunday. Lynch said that the negotiations between the two sides were tough, and that a price was set for Buckner’s services that the Colts met.

“We love everything about DeForest,” Lynch said. “I think at some point we hashed and rehashed when we made the move. It wasn’t a move we made lightly. When you’re putting together a roster, it’s a puzzle, and you work hard. You say well if we bring him back that’s one thing. It was a tough negotiation. At one point it was alright if we can find a trade partner, someone who will pay him that, then go find it.

“They brought back a real nice pick, and we had to make a decision with that pick and a bunch of other players we could. A lot of people, and I’m sure they’ll continue to talk, whether that was the right move or wrong move, but it’s the move we made at the time.”

Buckner, 27, was as First-Team All-Pro in his first season with the Colts last year, and ranked 20th in the NFL among interior defenders by Pro Football Focus.

“We did not make it lightly. Buck, I’m a huge fan of him as a player, as a human being, and like I said the task at hand is playing against a great player this week, in a game we really need.”

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Listen to the full interview below.


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