SANTA CLARA — In the 49ers 26-23 win over the Seahawks on Sunday, defensive lineman DeForest Buckner had his most impressive game of the season, and maybe of his career.
Buckner ended the day with a team-high 11 tackles, three quarterback hits and four tackles for a loss. That includes two sacks of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson who is incredibly slippery in the backfield.
Buckner now has 11 sacks on the season, making him the first player to have double-digit sacks in a season since Aldon Smith recorded 19.5 sacks in 2012.
Since 2000, only Smith and Andre Carter have recorded more sacks in a single season than Buckner. His 11 sacks are also the most for any 49ers interior pass rusher since Bryant Young had 11 sacks in 1999.
Those are notable names to be mentioned alongside.
What makes Buckner’s stats even more impressive is that he has done this all without an outside threat to help relieve the double teams that he regularly faces.
Buckner spoke about what it means to reach the double-digit mark in quarterback sacks.
“Getting to double-digits,” Buckner said, “I knew I was capable of it, and to see my hard work get paid off, it’s definitely gratifying. I knew I could do it and I worked my tail off in the offseason to get there.
“I’d like to thank most of my teammates. It’s not one guy, it’s the whole unit up front rushing as a team. Eventually, if you rush as a team, someone will get rewarded.”
Coach Kyle Shanahan spoke about how Buckner’s performance was a key factor in the team’s win.
“When you get a sack,” Shanahan said, “it’s very hard to recover from that on any type of drive for an offense and the way that they run the ball and how efficient they are in it, you’ve got to get some negative plays and you don’t get too many opportunities at it.
“So, when you can get to him and sack him, keep him from doing those off schedule plays, a lot of times it’s the difference between winning and losing with a quarterback like that.”
Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman has had a direct view of what Buckner and the defensive line has done all season. He explained why he is so impressed by their performances.
“I think it might have been the most statistically impactful game,” Sherman said. “In terms of the naked eye being able to see him affecting the game. But I think he and Arik Armstead have been terrorizing teams throughout the season. Sometimes it’s not showing up on the stat sheet.”
Buckner’s statistics facing Seattle in this season show his dominance on the inside. In the two games combined he registered 19 total tackles and sacked Wilson four times.
Buckner explained that there was a little extra motivation in the team’s second meeting.
“We took it personally,” Bucker said. “They flat-out embarrassed us two weeks ago. Everybody from top-to-bottom wasn’t happy about it. We knew it was going to be a dogfight coming in this week. We just played them two weeks ago. It was a long two weeks for sure. Everybody wanted to get out there and redeem themselves."