For many teams with first-round picks entering their second professional seasons, the goal is to see more from the player than they did as a rookie.
The 49ers are going the other way when it comes to defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, although the approach is more about quantity than quality of play. Buckner played more than 1,000 snaps during his rookie season, which was more than any defensive lineman in the league other than Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon and Buckner said there were points last year that he was “dead tired” while remaining in the lineup.
Buckner believes he was “hurting the team more staying out there” at those periods and new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh agrees that less can be more for the 49ers defensive line.
“When you look at a guy like Buckner last year having played almost 1,000 snaps — in my mind, that’s criminal,” Saleh said, via the Sacramento Bee. “Ideally, all of them are working about 500, 600 snaps and trying to utilize everything they’ve got every snap that they’re on the football field.”
The 49ers drafted three players to work into the defensive line mix and signed veterans Earl Mitchell and Elvis Dumervil to provide further depth up front. That should make it easier to get Buckner off the field more often and maximize his effort when he is on the field.