Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan breaks down how Dee Ford is going to help DeForest Buckner

Jul 30, 2019 at 8:15 AM--

DeForest Buckner led the San Francisco 49ers in sacks last year with a career-high 12. The defense tied for No. 22 in the NFL at bringing down opposing quarterbacks. If not for Buckner, that ranking would have plummeted because no other player on the roster had double-digit sacks. No one else had six or more.

In fact, Buckner became the first 49ers player since 2012 to have 10-or-more sacks in a single season. That's how bad the unit has been in recent years.

The 49ers entered the offseason determined to do something about their struggling pass rush. They already had three former first-round draft picks along the defensive line in Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas. The team's decision-makers decided to add two more in pass rushers Dee Ford, whom the 49ers traded for, and rookie Nick Bosa.

Had Ford been on the roster last season, his 13 sacks, not Buckner's 12, would have led the team. Just swapping out Cassius Marsh's sack total for Ford's would have ranked the 49ers No. 8 in the league last year. That's a significant jump. But what isn't factored into that equation is how Ford's presence might have helped Buckner even more.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan joined KNBR on Monday and explained what having pass rushers like Ford and Bosa on the edge means for Buckner during the upcoming season and, hopefully, for years to come.

"I don't really notice the pass rushers (in a game) on Monday unless they just jump off the tape," Shanahan said on the "Papa and Lund" show. "Everyone by Thursday, Friday, you start to see who can do it a little bit. But when you turn on that tape and someone can get off the ball, that's when you change your game plan a little bit; right away because you know that guy's going to beat you, especially if you're on the road.

"Dee Ford's that type of guy. You don't have to watch him. He'll just show up (on film) because of the speed he has. That's something that we've lacked.

"We have some good inside rushers. What I've learned in my two years watching this is if you don't have some speed on the edge, yes, there's not a threat there, but that also just makes it tighter for the inside guys. The more that these tackles are trying to get out to these guys because they're so fast up the field, even if they get blocked, now the 3-Technique that's on Buckner, there's a lot more space there.

"It's not as small; Buck's a big guy. I'd like to give him a lot more room to go through there, and the way you do that, you have some guys shooting off the ball so you can scare those tackles, and those tackles are a lot further away."

You can listen to the entire interview with Shanahan below.

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