They say time heals all wounds, but the clock may need to keep ticking a little while longer before former San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman DeForest Buckner gets over getting traded. The 49ers cited financial reasons for needing to trade Buckner last offseason, but the Colts star admitted he was hoping San Francisco would “meet me in the middle.”
“I was hoping the 49ers would at least meet me in the middle,” Buckner told The Athletic’s Zak Keefer. “I definitely didn’t expect them to trade me. I poured my heart and soul into that organization … to go from 2-14 my first year to build a culture and get to a Super Bowl? You just don’t expect to be traded.”
Over the offseason, the 49ers gave Buckner and his agent the green light to explore trade options informing the defensive lineman they would not be able to offer him a lucrative contract extension. According to The Athletic, the duo found a potential deal with the Colts who were willing to give up their first-round pick in a trade and extend Bucker after the move was made. The Niners traded Buckner to the Colts for the No. 13 overall pick which the team later dealt to the Buccaneers to move down one spot.
San Francisco selected defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw with the No. 14 pick who the team is hoping can flash a bit more before the season ends. The Colts signed Buckner to a four-year, $84 million contract extension after the trade.
Kyle Shanahan on Trading Buckner: ‘You Can’t Underestimate Losing a Player Like DeForest’
Prior to the season, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan admitted the team would feel Buckner’s absence on defense. The defensive tackle notched 62 tackles, 14 quarterback hits, 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles during the Niners’ run to the Super Bowl.
“I mean, I think with the health of those guys and adding Kerry and stuff, you might have a chance to have a little bit more depth, but I mean, you can’t underestimate losing a player like DeForest,” Shanahan said, per NinersNation.com. “He’s as good of a teammate and one of the best players in the league at his position. We feel we have got some guys there and stuff, but, that’s not easy to just come in and replace someone like that. So, we’ve got a group of guys, who it’s going to take them some time. But, I’m glad we’ve got a number of guys who can do it. We’ve got a number of guys who are capable and it’s going to take a bunch at first and hopefully they’ll just keep getting better and we can try to fill that void.”
John Lynch Called Trading Buckner the ‘Toughest Thing I’ve Done’
Shanahan could not have predicted the injuries that would occur in the weeks following his statement on Buckner, including the loss of pass rusher Nick Bosa for the season. The team has likely felt Buckner’s absence even more than the 49ers initially expected.
Buckner’s numbers are also down since arriving in Indianapolis with 39 tackles, 16 quarterback hits and 2.5 sacks through nine games this season. 49ers general manager John Lynch called the decision the “toughest thing I’ve done” since he took over the front office role in San Francisco.
“Probably the toughest thing I’ve done since I’ve been a general manager here and that’s the trade with DeForest Buckner,” Lynch explained, via ESPN. “It’s a difficult part of this business. One that I don’t think you can really prepare yourself when you move on from a player who embodies everything that you want to be about. We spend a lot of time talking about what’s a 49er to us, and DeForest Buckner embodied that in every way both on and off the field.”