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DeForest Buckner reflects on trade that sent him from 49ers to Colts

Oct 20, 2021 at 10:07 AM--

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DeForest Buckner will return to Levi's Stadium for the first time since the San Francisco 49ers traded the defensive lineman to the Indianapolis Colts last year. On Wednesday, he jumped on a conference call with 49ers reporters and reflected on the surprising move.

"In the moment, when you told me, when it was official, when I got traded, the feelings that I was feeling, if you told me that I was going to feel this way a year-and-a-half later, I would have said you're crazy," Buckner told reporters. "But everything happens for a reason, and the Lord put me here for a reason, and I'm very happy for the decisions that were made."

Money was obviously an obstacle in San Francisco holding onto the talented defender. Buckner said the 49ers never offered him anything close to the four-year, $84 million extension he received from the Colts following the trade. This week, he is spending time watching the film of his former team, which he admits is a bit strange.

"The fanbase was great," Buckner said. "I built a lot of great relationships there. I still have a lot of great relationships there. Obviously, the people there that I became friends with. Obviously, the convenience for my family. Obviously, being from Hawaii, it was just a plane flight away. My wife's family lived down the road in Fresno. That's where we pretty much call home in the offseason. [I miss] a whole lot of things."

While the trade surprised fans and the media, Buckner had an idea that something may have been in the works.

"I kind of knew probably a week or so in advance that it was a possibility," Buckner revealed. "I mean, it's just part of the business. They told us [to] look at trade options, little things like that, so my agent did his job, and I ended up here in Indianapolis."

The trade lit a fire under Buckner. Not because he wanted to show his former team that they made a mistake by trading him, but to prove to his new team that they made the right move in acquiring him.

"It really did teach me a lot about the business side of things," Buckner said. "... I feel like I did all the right things on and off the field. And obviously, I wanted to be there long-term. It was the team that drafted me, the organization that drafted me, and everything. When you're drafted to an organization, your initial thoughts are, I want to be here until I retire.

"Unfortunately, it didn't shake out that way. That's just the nature of the business, and [those are] the things that kind of suck with the whole salary cap situation. It is what it is. I'm very happy where I'm at."

Buckner also reflected on his conversations with general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan upon learning that the 49ers were trading him.

"It was a simple conversation," Buckner shared. "Just like the way it is with the salary cap, little things like that. Our conversation was just kind of a numbers thing. Personally, when I had my conversation with John, we sat down, and I told John, 'Look, I know my agent's telling me I'm worth this. But obviously, I'm able to meet you in the middle, someway, somehow, because I want to be here.'

"But I didn't want to take too big of a pay cut to where I know what I'm actually worth because I had a baby on the way. I've got to think of my family. ... I was looking out for my family, at the end of the day. Unfortunately, it just didn't go the way I wanted it to. Just like I said, it's the nature of the business."

What will it be like to return to Levi's Stadium this weekend for the first time since the trade?

"You know, that is a great question," Buckner responded, "and I've been asking myself that question a lot. I'm the type of guy that wears my emotions on my sleeve, so we're going to see."

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