SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers have selected Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner with the No. 7 pick in the NFL draft.
He’s a familiar face to help usher in the Chip Kelly era as new Niners coach after Buckner was recruited to Oregon by former Ducks coach Kelly. Buckner is an ideal fit as an end in San Francisco’s 4-3 defensive scheme. He had 10 1/2 sacks last season and was also credited with 16 quarterback hits and 39 hurries, according to Pro Football Focus. He is also a strong defender against the run.
“I think because they already knew who I was,” Buckner told reporters in a conference call moments after going off the board. “Coach Kelly and (49ers defensive line) coach (Jerry) Az (Azzinaro), they both recruited me and everything. I feel like they already knew who I was as a person, so there wasn’t much to get to know.”
San Francisco, which missed the playoffs for a second straight year, needed help in the pass rush after ranking 29th in the league with just 28 sacks after the retirement of defensive end Justin Smith last year and the release of troubled edge rusher Aldon Smith.
This is the second straight year the 49ers have taken a defensive lineman out of Oregon as Arik Armstead went 17th overall in the 2015 draft.
“I’m probably the happiest guy in the draft right now being reunited with Arik,” Buckner said. “Having that history with him back in Oregon, we’re good friends. We’ve been talking about it a little bit throughout the draft process. So, I’m excited, I’m ready to go and try to be a part of this team and help win some games.”
The 6-foot-7, 300-lb Buckner comes to the NFL with an impressive college resume.
During a four-year career at Oregon, the Hawaii native racked up 232 tackles, 18 sacks and capped off his senior season with Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors.