DeForest Buckner among top defensive rookies

DeForest Buckner, the San Francisco 49ers rookie defensive lineman, has been a bright spot on the 49ers historically awful defense. He has also produced numbers on par with the NFL’s top defensive rookies.

DeForest Buckner has been a rare bright spot for an historically bad San Francisco 49ers defense. The 49ers have given up the most points this season — 455, or 30.3 points per game. That is a full two points per game more than the next closest defense, the 1-14 Cleveland Browns.

DeForest Buckner, on the other hand, has produced statistics that could place him in consideration for defensive rookie of the year. Defensive Coordinator Jim O’Neil has been campaigning for just that. While earning this award would be a shock for Buckner — in no small part due to the fact that he plays on the league’s worst defense on a 2-13 team — he should still be considered among the best defensive rookies.

With one game yet to go, Buckner has recorded six sacks, meeting his preseason goal. Only three rookies have brought the quarterback down more: the Chargers’ Joey Bosa (9.5 sacks), the Bears’ Leonard Floyd (7 sacks) and the Jaguars’ Yannick Ngakove (also 7).

Buckner has also managed 71 tackles, good for second best in the NFL among defensive lineman — not just rookies.

Buckner has also been a mainstay on the defensive line, playing the second most defensive snaps in the NFL.

Buckner did miss one game with a foot injury, but has been the most reliable and best defensive player on the 49ers defense, if not roster. Trent Baalke may be on his way out next week, but this pick looks like a keeper.

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