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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

DeForest Buckner: “I wanted to get six sacks my rookie year”

Dec 13, 2016 at 3:20 PM--

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DeForest Buckner had a good game during the San Francisco 49ers' overtime loss to the New York Jets on Sunday. He had two sacks, a hit, a quarterback hurry, and a career-high seven stops on defense.

Despite missing a game this season, Buckner has the third-most snaps (823) of any defensive player on the 49ers roster. Only Antoine Bethea (936) and Tramaine Brock (931) have more than Buckner. On Sunday, he played all 84 defensive snaps and has played in 98.3 percent of the team's defensive snaps over their last five games according to Pro Football Focus.

"Back at Oregon, the coaches had me going around 80-90 plays a game my senior year," Buckner said following the 49ers' practice. "So I'm kind of use to it from that aspect, but the NFL is a whole different monster, you know? The guys are bigger, faster. I'm getting used to that too."

49ers DL DeForest Buckner Evaluates Rookie Season 

Buckner came into his rookie year with some defensive goals. "Personally, I wanted to get six sacks my rookie year as a personal goal," he said. "I'm almost there. Three games left, I can try to get more than that. I wanted to get around 70 tackles. I'm on course for that."

Buckner has 65 tackles and five sacks so far this season with those three games remaining likely to push him over his set goals. He has Pro Football Focus' highest grade among 49ers interior defenders and is the second-highest graded active defensive player (Gerald Hodges is the highest graded active defender).

"I think [Buckner] played his best game [against the Jets]," said 49ers head coach Chip Kelly on Monday. "He had nine-plus tackles, two sacks, was all over the field and I think you see him, the more he plays the more he understands what we're trying to get accomplished over there. He plays with such great effort and such a great motor and just loves playing football."

49ers defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil raved about Buckner today. He was asked about the defensive lineman's improvement in run support. "I don't know if I ever thought he was part of the problem," O'Neil said. "I think he's really progressed as the year went on. I thought early, actually, in the season, he was making most of his plays in the run game and then he was making a lot of plays with exceptional effort and I think we've seen him transform into a guy that can now make plays in the run-pass game and he's been unbelievable...He's just grown so much mentally and his ability to gather pre-snap information and make plays because of that has been really fun to watch him throughout the year."


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