49ers’ DeForest Buckner an artist off field and destructive force on it

SANTA CLARA — This is a portrait of the 49ers’ best player, DeForest Buckner.

Buckner is a defensive tackle and an artist. He likes sacking quarterbacks and drawing. In college, he was the Pac-12 defensive player of the year in 2015 and the winner of the breakout artist award in one of his art classes at the University of Oregon.

He won the football award for recording 10½ sacks his senior season. And he won the art award for a self-portrait called “King of Pop,” where he’s posing like Michael Jackson. Buckner used spray paint on a vinyl canvas for this piece.

He also has a tattoo portrait on his right arm of the statue of the Pietà by Michelangelo. It’s the Virgin Mary holding Jesus’ dead body. “I really like portraits,” Buckner said while standing in front of his locker.

Everyone agrees Buckner is special. He is the bright spot on a winless 49ers team, even if the stats don’t show it. He has just 1½ sacks this season. But he is the 49ers’ highest-graded player, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.

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This article has 30 Comments

  1. Very good article, I enjoyed reading that and sometimes it is really nice to read a feel good piece like that rather than a controversial article.

  2. Grant – I would like to see an article on Solomon Thomas only and break down his stats and season so far, I feel like he has been very good for a rookie and based on what he has been able to do in limited time through injuries and what not, but it seems like he is pretty polarizing and fans either tend to think he is great or is going to be just an average player (meaning he was a bust as the #3 overall pick) and I think you tend to lean to the side that he has not been very good, so I think it would bring up a pretty interesting conversation on him and who people think we should of drafted in that position.

    1. Last year the TFL leaders were Joey Bosa & Arron Donald with 17 each. Thomas has 8 through 7.25 games which is more than Bosa or Donald this year and puts him Top-20 (was 8th when he got hurt). He is also one of the NFL leaders in run-stops (was 7th when he got hurt). Had he played last week, he’d probably still be in the Top-10 in both. But missing 1.75 games has pushed him out of the Top-10.

      As a pass rusher, his pass rush has been below average for an RDE and average for a LDE. He lacks technique and too often lets the offensive lineman into his chest. I’m not terribly worried about this yet. While some jump-out from their first year, it takes most defensive linemen two or three seasons to become pass-rushing forces.

      1. My biggest issue with Thomas was the fact that he was a tweeter who didn’t project o be a good pass rusher from the edge. I don’t ever expect him to do much from the edge in reality. His best case scenario is a DE on base downs who slides inside in the nickle.
        The sad part is these players are not hard to find in my mind.

  3. Buckner is the only elite player on this roster atm. Maybe some of the other young guys turn into elite players, but right now, only Buckner. Need to find some guys to help him out.

    1. Yeah, put a good edge rusher beside him, and the sacks will come. Somebody has to force the QB to step up in the pocket, right into Buck’s waiting arms.

  4. Exactly! Scooter and 80! The DBs will look a whole lot better when other QBs have to withstand some of the hits CJB is taking right now.

  5. Sounds like Unca Buck has the mindset of a champion, with the creative expression of an artist. Portrait of a transformational leader for this defense to rally behind….

  6. The strength of any football team starts with the “core” which is the line of scrimmage, the point of attack.
    The old cliche “games are won in the trenches” still holds true today.

    Buckner is good but needs help up front. I give Sol.Thomas a pass this season because he is a rookie and has been injured but he will need to vastly improve to make an impact next season and take pressure of Buckner.
    Armstead has not built a strong case for himself to remain a starter. When he’s been on the field his play has been mediocre at best.

    Time to draft an Edge who can get to the QB and a Safety that can cover the middle of the field and have the speed to reach the sidelines.
    Lynch and Shanahan will be judged by their 2018 draft class for the next 4-5 years because now they will have the luxury of one year to scout and monitor college players who can fill many weak gaps on the current roster.

  7. Buckner is a force, and he is commanding double teams. Hope he does stunts like Cowboy did so the DE can make a sack.
    .
    King Solomon will get better. He lacked practice time, and it was unfortunate that he became injured, but he has an explosive first step, has a high motor and is stout against the run. He will be like Buckner, who is shining during his second year, and is projected to be a starter on the squad for years.
    .
    While I will rip Baalke for his drafts, sometimes a blind squirrel will find a nut. I also like Armstead, and the Niners should not want to trade him, because this season has shown the need to have solid depth on the DL. I also think that Garnett will do better. The problem with Garnett was that they played him out of position. He is a natural LG, and they forced him to play RG. Derrick Deese explained how switching positions is extremely hard for many players, especially O linemen. I am glad they are allowing Eric Reid to play safety, his natural position. Before, when they switched him to LB, I thought they were trying to eliminate him due to his kneeling. Now that they see how well he is doing at safety, I hope they sign him to a long term extension. Niners need to retain veteran talent and leadership. Hopefully, when Ward comes back, they will move him back to CB, and let Reid and Tartt be the safeties.
    .
    I think JG could be the QB of the future, but it may be better to use him as trade bait, since he may not want to play for a rebuilding team. It takes 2 to tango, and he may see better opportunities elsewhere, since many teams lack a decent QB. If the Niners can get teams into a bidding war, they might garner more than 2 first round picks. Having an additional first round pick in 2018 and 2019, will help build a strong foundation for the future.
    .
    Seems like the Niners are giving up way too many rushing yards, but that also may be a factor of the offensive ineptitude, allowing the defense to wear down.

  8. DL players like OL take the longest to groom into the NFL. Once in a while does a rookie come in and play like an all star, that is why I hate when teams let them walk. Hate to say this, but we need a new defence coach and nobody has written about that.

    1. I give Salah another year with a better group of players. Salah only has a few players on defense at the moment who are different makers.
      DeForest Buckner
      J. Tartt
      Reuben Foster.
      Sol.Thomas is a keeper, but I see the other starters as expandable.

      Who do you see as starters on defense for next year?

    1. Crab,
      Trying to refresh my memory… Isn’t this the way it happened last year?
      Browns win to give us #1. We immediately return the favor, and win to give it back?

      Still early though… and Detroit still has Stafford.

    2. Crab 15,
      The Browns wouldn’t know what to do with a #1 pick. Seems like they have a #1 overall pick every year and never have a winning record to show for it.
      The Browns may be better picking 2 or3 in the draft.

      If we get the #1 pick, I hope we can trade out for more draft picks. One player (no matter how good) is going to make a big difference. But several players, and perhaps two picks in the 1st rd can make a huge difference.

          1. Let them. Matt Miller had a article this week that said scouts were telling him that this will be a great year to trade up. While the top pick would get more return value, the second pick wouldn’t be bad compensation.

          2. Browns had 2nd and Goal from about the 3 with 13 seconds left in the half and no time outs. They ran a QB sneak that failed and were unable to lineup in time for a third down try. Unbelievable, but they “browned” it up again.

            To their credit they came out of the second half and marched down to get a TD. But the failed attempt at the end of the first half will probably come back to haunt them.

          3. Crab15,
            Browns heard 49ers foot steps catching up from behind for the #1 pick. They turned it on, or in their case, turned it off.

            I try to put a little levity on this lost season, but seriously, I never thought that our once proud franchise would be competing with the likes of the Browns for last place.

  9. Personally AES, Salahs type of defence doesn’t work unless you have solid CBs. At the starting of the year we should’ve been running a New England’s 4-3 &3-4 type of defence… but with Bowman gone, we are stuck. Lynch needs to address this defence issue now… two years running we are still in the crap zone. We have needed for years a secondary over haul, but has been nagleted and anyone can see that. Some of the past drafted picks where individual personial favorite dream player instead of Drafting realistically. CB’s and OL are the hardest to come by besides the QB… and we have not drafted well in these areas for years. Starting CB’s playing now where passed up in previous drafts and we are clearing suffering because of this.
    Don’t get me wrong, this last draft showed that Lynch and Shanny could be draft geniuses, but I hope we don’t fall into another year of hiding behind the moto “Draft the best player available”.
    Also, I think Kyle would do much better coaching off the field, calling plays in the coaches box without all the distractions. There’s nothing wrong with doing things differently.
    Does anyone know where to find a signed Buckner jersey

    1. Chad,
      I don’t disagree with you. But Salah was handcuffed from the beginning of the season when it became apparent that the much hyped Rashard Robinson would turn out to be the weakest link on our defense. And yes, the loss of Bowman hurt and we never got Malcolm Smith on the field either.
      Lynch picked CB’s Witherspoon and Adrian Colbert in this years draft to help shore-up the secondary but we definitely need more help.

      Lynch and Shanahan were giving a honeymoon first year pass, but they will be defined by next years draft for years to come.

        1. If Garappolo can play well in possibly the last 4-5 games of the season we don’t need to pick a QB high in the draft.
          I love CJ’ grit and moxie and look at him as a keeper and the perfect backup next year and beyond.

          Not sure at which number in the draft I would pick for these positions, but focusing on the O-line, WR and RB would be at the top of my draft agenda on offense.

          Edge, CB and LB are definite needs. But I believe that the defense is further along then the offense at this point of the season.
          With 6 more games left priorities can shift.

  10. Buckner’s a monster. A keeper for sure.

    Then there’s the forgotten man, Armstead. I’m happy with the Shanahan/Lynch team for the most part., but I’ve expressed regrets about two decisions so far.

    1) Trading their third-rounder (67) for the Saints seventh (229)+2018 second.
    2017 was a deep draft, and the NFL is said to be trying to discourage the high number of underclassmen in the 2018 draft. And the Saints are looking like a playoff team.

    It’s almost impossible to gauge a future draft class will be. The late 2nd rounder could be great. And at least we have a 2nd rounder after the Garoppolo trade. But I think some conditions (If Saints make playoffs, 49ers get Saints 2019 5th) might have been done.

    2) Moving Armstead outside, dropping him from 293 to 270s.
    I like Armstead inside at 293. He has his flaws, but could forklift guards into the backfield on passing downs.

    Inside he did have flaws (runner location, anchoring vs double teams) but he’d be really valuable as a rotational interior pass rusher next to Buckner. Not outside.

    1. Yeah, Armstead said he prefers his collage weight, and that’s where he is at. He put on the weight so he can hold down the 3-4 prototype weight which worked. Personially, stop moving the guy around, he was really good as a 3/4 DE … which translates as a starting DT in the 4/3 defence. The players the Niners drafted are run stopping prototype players, that’s what they where known for in college. Until we get other key players that cause havoc in the box and hoping these rookies are late bloomers, we have a front line built for a run stuffer and not a hyper pass pressures.

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