As the San Francisco 49ers try to get back to their winning tradition, they made sure DeForest Buckner is a key piece. The Punahou product burst into the league with a goal of winning defensive rookie of the year.
"Obviously it didn't happen," Buckner said. "But being a contender for it put me in a good position to make me stand out as one of the top rookies, especially with the pressure of being a top ten pick."
Buckner lived up to the hype in his first season, leading all defensive lineman in snaps, finishing second in tackles and fourth among rookies in sacks.
"I got to show what I could do a little. Hopefully this year I can take strides and build off of that and have an ever greater than season than I did last year."
Buckner said his biggest learning curve jumping to the NFL was the film study. His former Oregon and current 49ers teammate Arik Armstead went through his rookie season a year prior to Buckner and knows what's in store next.
"Year two is going to be huge for him," Armstead said. "He's settled in, he knows what to expect. He'll be more comfortable and be able to have an ever better season than he did last year."
Michael Bennett of the division rival Seahawks said Buckner is a league defensive player of the year candidate one day. Right now he's just licking his chops for the upcoming year.
"They got me in a three-technique so a lot more one-on-one's," Buckner said. "I'm shooting for 10 sacks this year."
"I think DeFo is capable of whatever he puts his mind to," said Armstead. "He's that talented of a guy, he works that hard. Anything he wants to achieve, he can achieve that."
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