DeForest Buckner said he knew it was a possibility the 49ers would trade him this offseason. That didn't make it any easier.
Possibility officially became reality Wednesday, and Buckner passed a physical completing his trade to the Indianapolis Colts. Buckner admitted that it stung to get traded, even though he was happy to join the Colts.
"It's always tough," Buckner told Indianapolis reporters in a conference call Wednesday. "When you play your heart out for an organization, and you're one of their key guys and you build a lot of lifelong relationships there and everything, to find out [that you're] a possibility to be traded -- with ... any guy in this profession, it would kind of hurt a little bit."
The 49ers drafted Buckner No. 7 overall out of Oregon in 2016, during what would be Trent Baalke's final draft as general manager. Buckner emerged as one of the NFL's best defensive tackles after John Lynch took over as GM and Kyle Shanahan as coach in 2017, anchoring San Francisco's dominant defensive line in 2019.
The 26-year-old was a key piece in the 49ers' run to Super Bowl LIV, and the team voted Buckner their most valuable player. San Francisco faced a dilemma with Buckner due a significant raise on his fifth-year option and Arik Armstead set to become an unrestricted free agent. The 49ers re-signed Armstead, agreeing to trade his longtime college and professional teammate soon after.
Buckner, meanwhile, is focused on the positives of joining a new team rather than the negatives of leaving his first.
"But at the same time, you can't take it personal because it's the business of the game," Buckner continued. "It's the business we chose, and the only thing that I can control is my attitude moving forward and I'm just blessed to have this opportunity. The fact that this organization is willing to believe in me and bring me in, feeling wanted and needed in a certain place, it feels good. I'm just excited to be able to show everyone what I can bring to the table.
Leaving San Francisco for Indianapolis, and the NFC for the AFC, will require Buckner to make plenty of adjustments.
Buckner sounded up for the challenge, but it will be one nonetheless.