Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports



In 2016, San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman DeForest Buckner set a goal for himself as he entered his rookie season. He wanted to get six sacks. He reached that goal last season, getting exactly six while playing in over 1,000 defensive snaps.

This offseason, Buckner is setting an even loftier goal. He wants 10 sacks in 2017.

"I've got some personal goals," Buckner said following the 49ers' first training camp practice of 2017. "Obviously, I want to get more sacks this year. My personal goal is 10 and some [tackles for a loss] and a bunch of tackles. I mean, that's really my main goal, getting at least 10 sacks this year because I know I can do it. I mean, I missed a couple last year and I just want to redeem myself from last year."

Buckner was also asked what he thought about being on the field so much last season. He tallied a snap count over 1,000 even though he missed a Week 5 contest against the Arizona Cardinals with a foot injury.

"I enjoyed every single bit of it," Buckner said. "Being a rookie and being able to come in and start and play all those snaps – I played a lot more than a lot of veterans around the league. Being that fortunate, I just embraced it because not a lot of guys can come in as a rookie and do what I did last year and get all those snaps and all that opportunity. I also gained a lot of experience playing all those snaps. It made me a lot more comfortable being out there on the field and I just want to keep it rolling from last year."

49ers defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina doesn't necessarily want to see a repeat of 2016 as far as Buckner's snap count goes. In May, he stressed quality over quantity when it came to his defensive unit.

"I believe in fresh bodies all the time," Zgonina said. "I don't like to see a guy play over a thousand snaps in a season like he did last year. Especially with a rookie. That's a lot of snaps."

Buckner has been training hard this offseason as he prepares to enter his second NFL season. He was among four 49ers players who traveled to Hawaii to take part in an annual training program put on by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett during the team's time off following the offseason program.

While Arik Armstead, Ronald Blair, and Eli Harold were the other three 49ers players in attendance, Bennett shared rave reviews of Buckner.

"I'm lucky to be working with a guy like that," Bennett told KHON-2 in Hawaii. "I think DeForest will eventually be a Defensive Player of the Year. I think he has the talent to be able to do that. I think his physique – I keep telling him there's nobody like him. He's not normal. His body, his physique, his speed, it's not normal. So when you're not normal you can do not normal things and winning the defensive MVP is not normal for most people. I think he has the capability of doing that."

Buckner feels that the 49ers defensive line can be much-improved this season, especially following the signing of rookie defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

"It's really deep," Buckner said. "We've got a lot of talent up front and it's really exciting to see that this year. You can come out and the bar doesn't drop. It stays at the same level and knowing that you have guys that will be able to rotate in with you and stuff, it brings a lot of confidence with each other, trusting each other. I'm really excited for this season."