Each NFL season, every team has a player that bears a little added attention. So which performer could turn the corner for the San Francisco 49ers in ’17?
Welcome to yet another 32-team series from End Zone Score. In recent months, we took the time to look at each club’s best offseason addition. We even dabbled into some pertinent and historical numbers.
Every NFL season features players that come into their own after a slow start to their careers. It’s tough to tell when each performer’s coming-put party will take place. Some are immediate successes. Others take longer due to numerous circumstances, but they prove to be worth the wait. Here we will try and pinpoint a player from each team in the league that we feel is on the verge of putting it altogether.
When you’re the seventh overall pick in the draft, the expectations are usually high. For San Francisco 49ers defensive end DeForest Buckner, you could make the case that the pressure was a little less than usual considering the state of the team entering the 2016 season.
The former University of Oregon did his best for a team that would finish the year dead last in both total defense and rushing yards allowed. Buckner showed flashes as a pass rusher but had his issues against the run. He tied for the team lead with six sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s 25th on their list of interior defenders. But that number dips down to No. 58 when it comes to shutting down the run.
A lot of that had to do with scheme and a lack of talent on the rest of the defense. But that figures to change a lot this season under the team’s new defensive coordinator.
“When you look at a guy like (DeForest) Buckner last year having played almost 1,000 snaps – in my mind, that’s criminal,” said Robert Saleh to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee not long ago. “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.”
You can expect a bigger impact from DeForest Buckner, now surrounded by a little more talent thanks to new San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch. And he could pick up a few pointers from veteran free-agent addition Elvis Dumervill this summer.