San Francisco 49ers: Young players who prove future is bright

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images /
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Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images /

DT DeForest Buckner (24)

It’s easy to remember the skepticism that surrounded the 49ers’ selection of DeForest Buckner back in 2016. Although it was clear he had the talent to warrant the No. 7 overall selection, some weren’t sure if he’d ever develop into the dominant pass rusher San Francisco needed.

Well, it appears the concerns have been quelled at this point.

After a modest first couple of seasons in the Bay Area, Buckner has finally emerged as a force to be reckoned with. In 2018, he’s already surpassed the amount of sacks he racked up across his first two years with the 49ers. Currently owning 11 sacks on the season, he ranks 14th in the league in that category — and first among interior rushers.

Realistically, though, we’ve known this was coming:

Now, we’re seeing firsthand what the 49ers’ dominant defensive lineman can do. He’s impacting the game in ways San Francisco was hoping for when they originally drafted the Oregon product. At 24 years of age, Buckner’s chances of getting much, much better are still very high.

In today’s NFL, building a winning defense starts up front. The 49ers have plenty of intriguing options along their defensive line, but none offer more upside and game-changing talent than Buckner. Look for him to be a centerpiece for this San Francisco defense for years to come.