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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports


DeForest Buckner sees irony in Javon Hargrave’s deal with 49ers

Mar 13, 2023 at 4:41 PM


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The San Francisco 49ers hoped that Javon Kinlaw was the answer to replacing DeForest Buckner in the interior of the defensive line. Instead, Kinlaw has missed 24 games over the past two seasons, and when he has been on the field, the 6-foot-5 defender has failed to make a significant impact producing just 1.5 sacks since being drafted.

The 49ers used the pick acquired from the trade that sent Kinlaw to the Indianapolis Colts. It was initially the No. 13 overall pick, but San Francisco traded down one spot to select Kinlaw with the No. 14 overall pick. All of this was because they felt they couldn't afford Buckner.

Three years later, the 49ers are paying big money to another Javon—former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave—to seemingly make up for what looks like a mistake. The irony was not lost on Buckner.

"Great for him!" Buckner told Michael Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle when asked about the Hargrave signing. "Just funny how they literally gave him the same contract."

Hargrave is reportedly signing a four-year deal worth up to $84 million. What was Buckner's extension value after being traded to the Colts? Four years, $84 million. He is halfway through that extension now, after three seasons in Indianapolis (2020 was played on the value of his fifth-year option plus a portion of the bonus involved in his extension).

"When you're drafted to an organization, your initial thoughts are, I want to be here until I retire," Buckner said in 2021 while reflecting on the trade. "Unfortunately, it didn't shake out that way."

Buckner has been productive for the Colts, racking up 24.5 sacks in three seasons. Hargrave has produced 23 sacks over that same timespan but reached opposing quarterbacks 11 times in 2022 on a dominant Eagles defensive line that helped the team reach the Super Bowl.

The 49ers decided to invest in Arik Armstead rather than pay Buckner. Now, it will be Armstead and Hargrave in the middle, with pass-rushing phenom Nick Bosa on the edge.

Oh, and Bosa will soon be paid handsomely. That's a lot of money invested in the defensive line. Maybe second-year defensive end Drake Jackson will develop into a suitable and more cost-effective bookend to Bosa. The 49ers hope the moves are enough to finally get them over the hump and bring home the organization's sixth Lombardi.
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