How high school coach in Hawaii challenged Buckner the moment he met him

How high school coach in Hawaii challenged Buckner the moment he met him

The moment DeForest Buckner was spotted ocn campus at Punahou School in Honolulu, football coach Kale Ane took particular notice.

“It was a great situation to see someone 6-foot-7 walking onto our campus,” Ane said. “I didn’t care what sport he was playing, I knew he was going to play football. So I was really happy.”

Ane, 65, played center for seven NFL seasons, mostly with the Kansas City Chiefs. Over the course of Buckner’s high school and college football experiences, Ane encouraged Buckner to set challenging goals for himself.

“He really opened that whole side of the game to me and about life in general,” Buckner said. “I was thinking small -- not that big -- and I thank him for that every day.”

Buckner chose to honor Ane for the Fourth Annual Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards because of the profound influence he has experienced from the long-time coach.

“He’s a very calm man,” Buckner said. “It was easy to have a conversation with him. He’s really open and genuine. In his presence, I felt very comfortable.

“I formed a bond with him quickly.”

Buckner remembers Ane took an interest in him even before he played his first snap of varsity football. Then-USC coach Pete Carroll came to the high school to visit linebacker Manti Te’o on a recruiting visit. Ane did not want Carroll to leave until he also got a chance to meet Buckner.

“I was a freshman and hadn’t played varsity ball, yet,” Buckner said. “And coach Kale was telling them, ‘This is one of our young guys. He’s going to be somebody one day. I just want you to get to know him real quick.’

“Coach saw the potential in me and wanted to get my name out there.”

Ane said he could tell that Buckner had vast potential – despite weighing a mere 200 pounds on his tall frame.

“You want to challenge your top athletes, and he was definitely one of our top athletes,” Ane said. “He had the potential to be a standout Division I player, and perhaps further than that.

“His work ethic allowed him to have those kinds of dreams and goals. We talked about where you want to go, and if you got hurt, how would you be treated? Does the system fit what you’re doing and are you happy? We had a few talks.”

Buckner accepted a full-ride scholarship to Oregon, where he played four seasons and graduated with a degree in criminology. The 49ers selected him with the No. 7 overall pick of the 2016 Draft, and he has developed into one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL.

Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'


Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

The 49ers’ coaching staff made its feelings known to center Daniel Kilgore throughout the season.

But, in the past, that would not have necessarily meant everyone in the organization had the same thoughts about Kilgore, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

“The whole season, coaches and I had a good relationship,” Kilgore said Wednesday on conference call with Bay Area reporters. “Just talking and having one-on-ones with various coaches, I had a positive outlook for the future.

“But that’s just one thing. The coaches have an opinion of you, but then there’s also the front office. That’s two totally different things. And I think for the first time in a long time, our coaches and the front office are on the same page.”

Kilgore was working out back home in Tennessee on Wednesday when he signed a three-year contract to avoid hitting the free-agent market. Kilgore, 30, a seven-year NFL veteran, described the contract as a team-friendly deal.

The 49ers presented Kilgore with a contract offer during the season but negotiations did not get serious until just recently. While the 49ers expressed interest in retaining Kilgore, he said he did not know what the future held for him when he packed his belongings from the locker room on the day after the season ended.

“It kind of makes you nervous because in this profession, people like the younger guys,” Kilgore said. “You just never know what will happen at any time, any given day, in the NFL. So toward the end, that last day of clearing out the locker, I didn’t know if I’d be back. I didn’t know if the Niners would want me back.”

Kilgore was named the winner of the organization’s top honor for an offensive lineman. Kilgore won the Bobb McKittrick Award for best exemplifying the dedication, excellence and commitment of the long-time 49ers offensive line coach. Kilgore started all 29 games in which he appeared the past two seasons, including a career-high 16 games last season.

"I've been here seven years and I consider the Bay Area my second home,” Kilgore said. “To be able to extend my career wearing the 49ers jersey was special to me. This team is heading in the right direction, I wanted to be a part of it."

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

Matt Maiocco

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

When Jimmy Garoppolo signed a contract that could pay him up to $137.5 million over the next five years, he was asked what convinced him during his nine weeks with the organization that he wanted to be with the 49ers for the long term.

“I think it was a number of things,” Garoppolo said last week. “The team, the acceptance that they had of me when I first got here from the get-go, the coaching staff, Kyle and Rich. It was a very welcoming environment, and I really liked that. We had some success down the stretch, and you could see that pieces were falling into place. We've got a long way to go, but I think we're moving in the right direction.”

Kyle, of course, is head coach Kyle Shanahan. Rich Scagarello is the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach, and the person from whom Garoppolo spent the most time after arriving in Santa Clara on Oct. 31 after a trade with the New England Patriots.

Garoppolo earned $3.5 million in his first four NFL seasons. His new contract makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player, making an average of $27.5 million per season, with $48.7 million fully guaranteed.

Scangarello, appearing this week on The 49ers Insider Podcast, talked about what he learned about Garoppolo from working so closely with him to teach him Shanahan's offense. Scangarello said there is no question in his mind the money will not change Garoppolo’s approach to his work.

“That’s why it was easy for the organization and everyone to invest in somebody like Jimmy Garoppolo,” Scangarello said. “I just think that’s not the kind of person he is. If you met his family, you know where he comes from, what he’s about. His brothers, his parents, are just good, solid people people. He’s made of the right stuff and I just don’t see that affecting him in that way.

“It’s just not who he is. That’s the fun part of working with somebody like that every day. When they’re really talented and they appreciate everything and they work at it, you have a chance to be a successful organization and they can be a great player. And I don’t think those things will ever affect him.”