The San Francisco 49ers’ #1 draft pick DeForest Buckner is one half of the defense’s Twin Towers. The other half is last year’s #1 pick Arik Armstead. Buckner, who currently has 30 tackles, two sacks, and a fumble recovery, has the unique opportunity of coming into the NFL with his college coach, as well as his former teammate and close friend.
“Being able to make this transition with my former coaches and my good friend and teammate, a lot of guys, the go into the NFL, they go into a new team without knowing anybody,” said Buckner. “Me having my former head coach, my former line coach, and my former teammate and good friend makes the transition for me a lot easier.”
Armstead has given Buckner good advice both on the field and off.
“On the field…he tells me all the time, ‘Nobody can block you,’” said Buckner. “He’s telling me just to trust in myself because you know that I can do it, I know I can do it. I just need to trust in myself. That’s pretty much the best advice he’s given me.”
The Hawaii native knows there’s a big transition from college to the NFL, but he just puts his head down and the work in. The 49ers have struggled with the run defense so far this season, but when I talked to Buckner before the start of the season, he knew this was an area of importance.
“I just want to get in on defense, being able to help my teammates stop the runner early. [Defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro] emphasizes stopping the runner early and getting after the quarterback. When it comes down to those critical downs, I want to be able to have an impact for my team.”
And he’s on his way to doing so. Buckner has shown a lot of what made him great at the University of Oregon. Part of the reason for that is work ethic and focus. And of course, he’s also big and very talented.
“If there are any big names or guys on the other team or whatever, on the o-line, I don’t really pay attention to that. I just pay attention to watching film and trying to find the flaws and everything. I don’t really put guys on a pedestal in my mind going into game day or game week.”
Buckner has had to be an adult from a young age. When he was 13, his father was in a terrible accident, and though he absolutely fine, he told DeForest that he was going to have to be a man from that point forward.
“That experience really shaped my life until now. Him telling me I had to be a man at a young age helped me mature a lot…I couldn’t do some of the stuff that kids my age could do. It helped me certainly as a person, made me more responsible as a person. Having that experience in my life really shaped me to who I am today. It really helped me in the long run.”
Being in the Bay makes it much easier for Buckner’s parents to attend games, as there are direct flights from Hawaii to San Jose. But that’s not the only reason Buckner is excited to be playing for the 49ers.
“…I love the weather and the 49ers have a strong history as an organization. It’s one of the teams that I grew up watching…[A]lso just playing in the NFL, the competition, the best competition you’re going to get playing a good level. I really love competition, playing sports and everything, so I’m really excited for that.”
Buckner is also excited to get involved in philanthropic endeavors. The 49ers do a lot of great work to give, which he looks forward to, but he also wants to do community work on his own.
“I’m definitely going to want to get out there in the community. I love giving back to the community and working with kids and all of that. I’m definitely going to be looking forward to doing that stuff.”
Buckner’s favorite food is Hawaiian food, and he would describe himself as funny, outgoing, and confident. And there’s another more thing he would like people to know.
“Just because I’m big and tall doesn’t mean I’m scary. I’m a really approachable person and I love to do what I do.”
We love that you’re a Niner. Now, let’s go stop the run. Go Niners!
Learn more about DeForest Buckner with the below 5 Fun Facts!
*Photo in article’s title graphic also provided by DeForest Buckner.