SANTA CLARA — DeForest Buckner met his personal goals for the 2018 season. The defensive tackle is looking forward to what he wants to achieve in the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, and is not concerned about ironing out a new multiyear deal with the 49ers.
At least not yet.
“I’m going to be honest,” Buckner said. “I haven’t really thought too far into it. I’m just focused on the offseason and what I need to do to get better and try to help my team to win.”
Buckner started in all 16 games and finished with a personal best 12 sacks, the fourth-most by a 49ers defender since 2000. He also recorded 67 tackles, 44 of which were solo and 17 were for a loss. He was very productive disrupting the pocket, hitting opposing quarterbacks 20 times.
After finishing 2017 with only three sacks, Buckner explained what helped improve his productivity.
“Finishing,” Buckner said. “Finding that extra step to get to the quarterback, turning those pressures and hits into sacks. I really did a good job the past offseason on working on that, and I’m proud of the season that I put out there. And I can only get better from that.”
Buckner reiterated coach Kyle Shanahan’s message to the team when talking about what he hopes to see from the young members of the defense during the offseason. He urges them to take advantage of their time, in order to avoid the early-season slump that affected the team at the beginning of 2018.
Buckner wants the team to pick back up right where they left off. He also wants to see a vast improvement in the turnover department -- the 49ers had a mere seven takeaways all season.
“We need to do a better job as a defense attacking the ball,” Buckner said. “This year we caused a lot of fumbles but the ball didn’t bounce our way. It was unfortunate how it happened, we dropped a couple of picks.”
“So we just have to better job as a defense as a whole, making sure we take advantage of the opportunities that are given to us.”
Despite a career-best season, Buckner reflects on 2018 knowing there are still specific ways where he can get better.
“There’s a couple of sacks that I left out there too, where quarterbacks got out of my grasp," Buckner said. "Just got to continue on getting better. How to defeat blocks faster, working on my hands more, footwork, all of that. I just have to work on my technique cleaning it all up and put another season out there like I did this past year.
“I’m pretty satisfied with what I did,” Buckner said. “But I’m still hungry. I know I can do better and I know there’s still sacks that I left out there that I could have got. So it’s back to the grind.”
Buckner still wouldn’t disclose the number of sacks that was his goal was for 2018.
“Yeah, I got the number. I’m not going to say, but I got the number.”
You can assume that number is even higher in 2019.