NFL rumors: How 49ers-Colts DeForest Buckner trade came together

Alex Didion
·3 min read

Report: How Buckner's camp made 49ers-Colts trade happen originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 49ers' offseason trade of All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts appears to have been a simple process that didn't require much back-and-forth.

CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported Sunday morning a multitude of details surrounding how one of the NFL's most impactful trades of 2020 came together, and apparently it all began with a conversation at last year's NFL Scouting Combine.

Joel Segal, Buckner's agent, met with a triumvirate of the 49ers' top football executives, and after "amicable" conversations, it was clear the two sides were not going to reach an agreement on a contract extension with the compensation Buckner was seeking.

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La Canfora added that four to six legitimate suitors emerged once Bucker was made available, citing sources, but Colts general manager Chris Ballard was "the most diligent."

The trade was finalized in less than a week per La Canfora's sources, and Indianapolis quickly got Buckner signed to an extension worth $21 million per season.

The move seems to have paid off for the Colts so far in 2020, as Indianapolis is a top-three unit against the run and has allowed the second-fewest total yards of any NFL team through eight weeks. After having the 18th-ranked scoring defense last season, the Colts are fifth in 2020, allowing just 19.4 points per game.

The 49ers did utilize the No. 13 pick acquired in the trade, sending it to Tampa Bay along with a seventh-round selection to move one spot back in the first round and pick up a fourth-round draft pick from the Buccaneers. Javon Kinlaw was snagged with that No. 14 overall selection and tabbed as Buckner's replacement on the interior of San Francisco's front seven.

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Kinlaw's play hasn't jumped off the screen through nine games, but defensive tackles don't often stuff the stat sheet, as they make many contributions within the trenches that are difficult to quantify. Kinlaw's 57.4 Pro Football Focus grade could be much worse, but it's nowhere close to Buckner's 82.3.

Salary cap constraints meant the 49ers would need to move on from either Buckner or fellow defensive lineman Arik Armstead last offseason, and Armstead's lower salary likely played a role in Buckner being the one who got shipped out.

Tight end George Kittle also was expected to get a record-setting deal at some point before the 2020 season began -- and did -- so 49ers general manager John Lynch had to make a difficult decision that just about every leader of an NFL front office has had to face.

Injuries to Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas in Week 2 threw a wrench into what was expected to be another big season for the 49ers' defensive line, and pushed Kinlaw into a larger role earlier than the 49ers had planned.

Buckner is a tremendous player, but there still is plenty of time for Kinlaw to prove that the 49ers made a wise decision.