Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


Jim O’Neil: DeForest Buckner should be considered for Defensive Rookie of the Year

Dec 27, 2016 at 10:55 AM--


San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil met with the media today and one of the topics of discussion was rookie defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. The coach praised the season that Buckner is having and how much he has developed during his first season in the NFL.

Buckner has six sacks this season and has been in on 71 tackles. Only one interior defender has more tackles (Damon Harrison, NYG). Despite missing a game, he has played 943 snaps this season, which is third only to Antoine Bethea (1062) and Tramaine Brock (1048). That is an impressive number of an interior defender. In fact, no defensive lineman in the league has been in on as many plays. The next closest is Ndamukong Suh at 919.

How pleased is O'Neil with Buckner? He believes that Buckner should be considered for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

O'Neil was asked about the progression of Buckner since the offseason. "His progression has been awesome," he said. "It really has been. We've talked all year long about it. Early on, he had how to learn to get his pads down and now you see him dominating at the line of scrimmage and knocking guys back instead of stalemating or, at times, getting knocked back. You've seen the progression of him as far as a pass rusher from the start of the season until now.

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"He actually called a shot on his sack. He kind of radioed up to me, 'Coach, give me a shot at this guard.' So I gave him a four-man front rush on the next third down and he called it. He beat him and got a sack. So that was pretty cool. A rookie saying, 'I can beat this guy. On third down, give me a shot at him.' And we did and he came through on it.

"I don't know how he's not going to be considered for the Defensive Rookie of the Year. If you look at his numbers compared to every defensive tackle in this league, he leads the NFL in tackles for defensive tackles. He's at the top in sacks. He's played the most plays of any defensive tackle in the NFL.

"I think he's done and unbelievable job and for such a young guy, he's the ultimate professional. And again, another guy that just loves football. When you get around guys that love football and they want to be around it and they want to grow, they're easy to coach. And I think [defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro] Azz and [assistant defensive line coach Vince Oghobaase] Vinnie, our two d-line coaches, have done an unbelievable job with him this year developing him."

O'Neil went on to say that it is very rare for a guy that big to have such a good motor during plays.

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