Colts’ DeForest Buckner on facing 49ers: ‘It’s a little personal’

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Indianapolis Colts All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner is preparing to face the only other team he’s played for in the NFL when the San Francisco 49ers play host on Sunday night at Levi’s Stadium.

Buckner, who was drafted by the 49ers with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, is now in his second season with the Colts after being traded for the No. 13 overall pick in the 2020 draft.

While Buckner isn’t making it his main priority in this revenge game, he does admit it means a little more to him.

“It’s a little personal,” Buckner told the media Wednesday. “Definitely don’t know how I’m going to feel when I get out there, get on the field. It’s probably going to be a mix of emotions, you know what I’m saying? That’s where I started my family, out there. That’s where I got the opportunity to play this game on the highest level possible, they drafted me. I poured my heart and soul out in that organization for four years that I was there. It’s going to be interesting.”

The 49ers swapped Buckner for a first-round pick then decided to extend defensive end Arik Armstead while drafting Buckner’s replacement in Javon Kinlaw out of South Carolina.

At first, Buckner was set out to prove how much of a mistake it was for the 49ers to make that move. But as the 2020 season went on, his mindset shifted to giving everything he has to his new team.

“I’m past that. I shifted that perspective a little bit last year. It was early on for sure. I kind of shifted that mindset to I’m going to prove to the Indianapolis Colts why they paid me,” Buckner said. “I’m going to do everything in my power, I’m going to pour my heart and soul into this organization and show them why they made the decision to pick me.”

It’s easy to see why Buckner is held in such high regard in the locker room. Not only is he the defense’s best player but he also is highly respected, evident by the fact that his teammates voted him to be a team captain.

Buckner hasn’t quite lived up to expectations this season. That isn’t to say he hasn’t been good at all. His 14 pressures are the ninth-most among interior defensive linemen, per Pro Football Focus. He just hasn’t had that breakout game yet.

It wouldn’t be a shock, though, if that game came on Sunday night with Buckner playing with a little extra juice.

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