After reviewing all 17 plays San Francisco 49ers rookie defensive end Deforest Buckner played in the 49ers first preseason game against the Houston Texans, I give Buckner a C grade. For a rookie in his first game, Buckner did about as well as to be expected. He had some flashes of good plays, but he also showed his lack of NFL experience by being completely taken out of plays. Touted as a better player against the rush than the pass in college, Buckner followed through on that evaluation in his debut.
First, let’s break down the good tape. In the first clip below, Buckner does a great job of getting of holding his spot, shedding his blocker, and helping finish the tackle with linebacker Ray Ray Armstrong. In the second clip, Buckner’s best play of the game, he pushes the right tackle back two yards into the backfield, and tackles the running back for a short gain. The third clip shows Buckner’s strength in shedding blocks and making tackles. The only negative in this clip is the fact that he was pushed back a couple yards. In the final clip in this series, Buckner pushes into the backfield and tries to shed his block but is held by the guard. This missed call by the official leads to more than 10 yard game by the Texans running back.
Next, let’s look at the bad tape. In the clips below, you’ll see that Buckner has trouble being effective in rushing the passer. He is often completely neutralized as he gets no push, and the offensive lineman is able to guide him out of the play. However, you do see Buckner’s high motor in the last clip where although he’s stifled at the line, he runs more than 5 yards back into coverage to help finish off a tackle by CB Tramaine Brock.
Like his teammate and good friend Arik Armstead, Buckner is going to take some time to be truly NFL-ready. We’ll have to wait and see what type of role he has on the team this year. He’ll definitely be called on in rushing situations early in the season, but it may take some time, if not all of the season, for him to become an every-down lineman.
Here’s the rest of the tape on Buckner that I placed in the neutral category.