If you were to merely look at the stat sheets over the course of the season, San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner might not stand out to you. The second-year player has just three sacks this season after finishing his rookie campaign with six. Buckner has 60 tackles through 15 games compared to 73 through the same amount last season.

In July, Buckner was hoping to see a jump in statistics this season.

"My personal goal is 10 (sacks) and some [tackles for a loss] and a bunch of tackles," Buckner said. "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."

Unless Buckner has a phenomenal game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, he will fall short of his goal for this season. However, that doesn't necessarily mean Buckner has had a down year.

As a pass rusher, Buckner has been quietly efficient. Over the course of the season, he ranks ninth among interior defenders in pass rushing productivity, according to Pro Football Focus. Buckner also ranks first in quarterback hits, ninth in quarterback hurries, and fourth in total quarterback pressures among the same group.

Buckner is Pro Football Focus' second-highest graded (90.3) 49ers player and seventh among all NFL interior defenders. Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster is the only teammate who has earned a higher grade (91.7).

On Thursday, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was asked if he believes Buckner is the 49ers' best overall defender this season. He took it a step further with his answer.

"I think he's one of the best in all of football," Saleh responded. "He'd be one of the best for every single team in football. I'm not trying to sugarcoat it for him. He is dominant in every facet of football. And the scary part is he can still get better with pad level. He can get better with hands. He can still get better at creating edges in pass rush.

"But as far as where he's at now, for a second-year player, as young as he is, he's unique. He's special."

Buckner, like all of his teammates on the 49ers defense, was ignored when it came time to select players for the Pro Bowl. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk was the only selection from San Francisco. Saleh doesn't see the snub as a deterrent for the 23-year-old.

"I think Buck has bigger goals in mind in terms of what he's trying to accomplish as an individual," Saleh said. "The Pro Bowl, it's a nice reward I guess, but it's not something that I'm sure defines him."