No. 2: DT DeForest Buckner
One of the stalwarts of the 49ers defense over the last few seasons, even in years where the unit hasn’t been strong, has been defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. He is one of the more underrated interior defensive players in the game today, and yet he created a lot of problems for the Chiefs through much of the Super Bowl.
Buckner ended the game with the team’s third highest PFF grade, with a 73.1 overall, and the second best pass rush grade at 77.4. He was credited with five total pressures, two sacks, one QB hit, and two hurries on the night according to the site.
He also had six total tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and was a general menace to the interior of the Chiefs offensive line.
The 49ers have a lot of questions about what to do with some of their best players moving forward in terms of long term contracts, and Buckner is one of that stands near the top of the priority list. His performance in the Super Bowl will in no way diminish his position in that regard.
As a former first round pick, he can play next season on the fifth year option, which is worth a little over $14 million for next season according to Over the Cap.
But it would certainly behoove the 49ers front office to figure out a way to lock up the former Oregon Duck to a long term deal as soon as possible, both as a sign of good faith and to create more cap space heading into the office season. Other than tight end George Kittle, who has one more year on his rookie deal, this should be a top priority moving forward.
Buckner proved how vital he is to the team’s defensive success on Sunday, and keeping that group in tact as best they can should be important for the 49ers this offseason. Fortunately, one of the most vital cogs in the machine, both in the Super Bowl and throughout 2019, is already locked down.