Joe Staley

Why 49ers' DeForest Buckner was snubbed from the PFF top 101 list


Why 49ers' DeForest Buckner was snubbed from the PFF top 101 list

When Pro Football Focus released its list of the top 101 players for 2018, 49ers defensive lineman DeForest Buckner was noticeably absent. He did, however, make another list: Top 10 players to miss the PFF top 101. 

Buckner has improved each season and posted personal bests in several categories in 2018. He had career highs in total pressures (53), defensive stops (37) and quarterback sacks (12). 

While Buckner has steadily become a force to be reckoned with on the defensive line, he did have one category that held him back from cracking the top 101: missed tackles. Of Buckner’s six missed tackles, five were against the run, which was ranked him tied for fourth-most at his position. 

Despite the missed tackles, Buckner was impressive. Only the Rams' Aaron Donald (20.5) and the Chiefs' Chris Jones (15.5) had more sacks. Only five players had more quarterback pressures than Buckner’s total (53). He also ranked 14th in quarterback hits (9) and 12th in hurries (31). 

When you take a look at the interior defensive linemen that did make the PFF 101, you'll notice that the players at the top of the list are on teams that also another standout defensive lineman playing alongside them. 

Donald has Ndamukong Suh, Eagles' Fletcher Cox has Brandon Graham, Akiem Hicks (Bears) has Khalil Mack and Jones (Chiefs) has Dee Ford and Justin Houston. If the 49ers can add a much needed edge rusher in the offseason, Buckner could become a similarly ranked player. 

Here are the interior defensive linemen in the PFF 101: 

1. Aaron Donald -- Rams
5. Fletcher Cox -- Eagles 
11. Akiem Hicks -- Bears 
15. Chris Jones -- Chiefs
17. Grady Jarrett -- Falcons 
43. Kenny Clark -- Packers 
57. Cameron Hayward -- Steelers 
61. Jurrell Casey -- Titans 
79. Geno Atkins -- Bengals 
83. Lawrence Guy -- Patriots 
88. Eddie Goldman -- Bears 
95. Ndamukong Suh -- Rams 

Buckner is entering his fourth season as a Niner and is eligible for a contract extension. His four-year rookie contract ends at the end of the 2019 season but does contain a fifth-year option. The 49ers have plenty of cap space available, which could be used to work a long term deal with the University of Oregon alum.

"We're going to do everything we can to ensure that DeFo is a Niner for a long, long time," Lynch said on KNBR in December. "I'm sure it won't be cheap, but those are all things you have to figure out. I can tell you that the motivation in this building is to keep him around here for a long, long time."

[RELATED: Buckner, Kittle top 49ers' list of award winners]

The 49ers hope to use free agency and/or the draft to get Buckner the help he needs to flourish -- perhaps by this time next year, he'll be a mainstay on the PFF list.

Buckner’s 49ers teammate George Kittle made the PFF top 101 list for the first time, slotting in at No. 13. Veteran tackle Joe Staley was ranked No. 96, making his sixth appearance on the list. 

49ers' George Kittle and Joe Staley recognized on PFF's top 101 list


49ers' George Kittle and Joe Staley recognized on PFF's top 101 list

The leader in NFL analytics has produced its annual list of the best 101 players in the league.

Tight end George Kittle and left tackle Joe Staley earned their spots on the rankings of the NFL’s best players in the rankings from Pro Football Focus.

Surprisingly, the 49ers' defensive teammate, DeForest Buckner, did not make the list.

Buckner was added to the NFC Pro Bowl team after a breakout season during which he led the 49ers with a career-high 12 sacks. Buckner, a three-year veteran, is eligible for the first time this offseason to sign an extension with the 49ers.

Kittle made his debut on the list at No. 13 overall. He led the 49ers with 88 receptions for 1,377 yards to set the NFL record for most receiving yards in a single season from a tight end.

”No player in the PFF era has ever racked up more yards after the catch in a single season than Kittle did in 2018. Not just tight ends -- everyone,” PFF wrote, in reference to his 873 yards after the catch.

PFF also noted that most of Kittle production came in the 13 games after Jimmy Garoppolo’s season-ending knee injury with reserve quarterbacks C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens distributing the football.

[RELATED: How Kittle wants to get even better in 2019]

PFF bases its list solely on the 2018 season, and performance in the postseason is also taken into account.

Staley made the list for the sixth time in his career, checking in at No. 96. PFF said Staley finishing in the top-10 in overall grade among offensive tackles. He allowed just 25 total pressures and four sacks in 609 pass-block snaps this season.

Here is PFF’s top 20:
1, DT Aaron Donald, L.A. Rams
2, WR DeAndre Hopkins, Houston
3, QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City
4, QB Drew Brees, New Orleans
5, DT Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia
6, WR Michael Thomas, New Orleans
7, QB Tom Brady, New England
8, LB Bobby Wagner, Seattle
9, CB Stephon Gilmore, New England
10, DE Khalil Mack, Chicago
11, DT Akiem Hicks, Chicago
12, QB Andrew Luck, Indiananpolis
13, TE George Kittle, 49ers
14, S Eddie Jackson, Chicago
15, DT Chris Jones, Kansas City
16, DE Cameron Jordan, New Orleans
17, DT Grady Jarrett, Atlanta
18, LB Luke Kuechly, Carolina
19, DE J.J. Watt, Houston
20, S Jamal Adams, N.Y. Jets

Owner: Steelers won't cut Antonio Brown, but 'all other options' on table


Owner: Steelers won't cut Antonio Brown, but 'all other options' on table

We've heard from Antonio Brown (through tweets and sourced stories), Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin, several 49ers players and even a few Hall of Famers.

Now, we've got comments from Pittsburgh Steelers owner and president Art Rooney II regarding the Brown drama.

“There’s not much we can do right now," Rooney told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday. "We have time to make a decision. We’ll look at all the options. We’re not going to release him, that’s not on the table. But I will say all other options are on the table."

As you are well aware by now, Brown is not happy in Pittsburgh and wants out. The Steelers reportedly will listen to trade offers for the All-Pro wide receiver.

Rooney also didn't rule out the possibility that the Steelers and Brown can work out their issues and continue their relationship.

“Whether the situation can be reconciled and have him back on the team next year," Rooney said. "We’re a long way away from thinking that can happen. We’re not closing the door on anything at this point.”

About 90 minutes after Rooney's comments were published, Brown responded with a tweet.

Nearly two hours after that, 49ers left tackle Joe Staley quote tweeted Brown with a waving emoji, joining tight George Kittle in the recruitment of the receiver.