Nick Bosa Says 49ers Will Have to 'Step It Up' After Trading DeForest Buckner

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 6, 2020

San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (99) smiles as he rests on the bench with defensive end Nick Bosa (97) and defensive end Dee Ford (55) during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Tony Avelar/Associated Press

The San Francisco 49ers defensive line was instrumental in the team's success last season, but Nick Bosa understands repeating that performance in 2020 will be difficult after DeForest Buckner was traded to the Indianapolis Colts

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Bosa explained everyone on San Francisco's defensive line will have to "step it up" without Buckner:

"He got a pretty good contract and he deserves it, but just losing him as a leader, we're going to have to really figure out how to step up and fill that void because he was the third-down D-line play caller, he was the hype speech guy, he was everything. And I think he played with the best effort on the D-line, which really shows on tape when you see somebody that big sprinting to the ball every play and making those tackles downfield, and obviously his pass-rush ability, we're gonna have to step it up for him."

San Francisco general manager John Lynch told Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer that this offseason was the first time since he took over before the 2017 season that the team had to be mindful of the salary cap. 

Lynch noted the 49ers hoped to re-sign both Arik Armstead, whose rookie contract expired after last season, and Buckner, but Buckner's agent, Joel Segal, informed the team his client wanted an extension that averaged at least $20 million per season.

"Our motivation certainly wasn't getting rid of Buckner, because he's one of our best players, and one of our best people," Lynch said. "He embodies 49er way."

Buckner was shipped to the Colts in exchange for the No. 13 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. Armstead was initially given the franchise tag but eventually signed a five-year extension with $48.5 million guaranteed and worth up to $85 million. 

The 49ers hope they offset the loss of Buckner by drafting South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw at No. 14 overall. 

In addition to Kinlaw, San Francisco's defensive line will also feature Bosa, Armstead, Dee Ford, D.J. Jones, Ronald Blair III and Solomon Thomas. 

The group with Buckner last year was tied for fifth in the NFL with 48 sacks. He had 19.5 sacks over the past two seasons playing primarily as a defensive tackle. 

Bosa's emergence as a rookie in 2019 may have made it easier to part ways with Buckner. The Ohio State alum led the team with 25 quarterback hits, 16 tackles for loss and ranked second with nine sacks.