DT/DE DeForest Buckner
Hailing from Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii, defensive end DeForest Buckner was highly recruited by and joined the University of Oregon in 2012. Buckner helped to make up one of the best defensive lines from the PAC 12 in recent memory, playing opposite of fellow 49er teammate, Arik Armstead, for several years.
By the end of his senior year at Oregon, Buckner had solidified himself as a top-10 prospect in the NFL and was selected by the 49ers with the seventh overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft.
In his rookie campaign, Buckner tallied 73 combined tackles and six sacks — not bad for a rookie on the worst run defense in franchise history.
Until now, Buckner has played in defensive schemes that have required him to play either side of a blocker. The new 4-3 under scheme allows him for the first time to shoot a single gap responsibility and use his abnormally fast and huge 6-foot-7, 300-pound frame to plow through offensive lines instead of holding up blockers and choosing a side.
On a line that now contains fellow 6-foot-7 behemoth Armstead and new second overall selection, Solomon Thomas, Buckner should receive less double teams and create much more havoc than in the past.
We could see Buckner playing all over the D-line, situationally playing the weak-side Elephant end position, weak-side tackle but should mostly be used as the strong-side DE out of the base. This could prove to be a breakout year for the versatile lineman.