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DeForest Buckner was Willing to "Meet in Middle" With 49ers on an Extension

DeForest Buckner revealed via conference call that he was willing to take a discount to remain with the San Francisco 49ers.

DeForest Buckner spoke to Bay Area reporters via conference call Wednesday.

Without a doubt, the first few questions revolved around his trade and what went down with any potential contract extension. 

Buckner had a ton of interesting responses that shed a new light on that whole ordeal. One response he had that caught my attention the most was that Buckner was willing to "meet in the middle" with the 49ers on an extension.

"When I had my conversation with John (Lynch)," Buckner said, "we sat down and I told John, I know my agent is telling me I'm worth this, but I'm obviously able to meet in the middle, someway somehow. I do want to be here, but you know I didn't want to take, you know, too big of a pay cut to where I know what I'm worth because I had a baby on the way. You know I got to think of, you know, my family, you know what I'm saying, you know, it's like when you're doing your job. I mean, you know you deserve a pay raise or little things like that I mean, you're not going to sell yourself short. You're not going to say, 'You know what, I'm just going to take the pay cut.' So I was looking at, you know, I was looking out for my family. At the end of the day and unfortunately it just didn't go the way you wanted it to and it's just like I said it's the nature of business."

Incredible. The 49ers were bottom feeders for years before their outlier 2019 season. And here they have an All Pro caliber player who is their homegrown talent willing to take a discount. Sure enough, the 49ers didn't see it that way. They looked at Buckner as just a number and didn't seem to really consider the human element side of impact he has had on the locker room. 

The conversation with Kyle Shanahan, according to Buckner, was much more quick and to the point.

"It was just a really simple conversation, just like the way it was, you know, the salary cap and you know, little things like that. Our conversation, you know it was just kind of, I mean it was a numbers thing."

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Shortly after this answer, my editor Grant Cohn asked Buckner if the 49ers ever offered him anything near a four-year, $84 million extension. 

Buckner's answer: "No"

To this day, I have defended the 49ers in their reasoning over trading Buckner. They were able to retain Arik Armstead, Jimmie Ward and draft Javon Kinlaw. You could even throw in Brandon Aiyuk into that mix as the 49ers used one of the picks they received with the Buccaneers when they traded down to No. 14 from No. 13 to take Aiyuk. But it sounds like, or at least my takeaway from being a part of the conference call, is that Buckner really wanted to stay with the 49ers and that the 49ers didn't make a concerted effort to figure out how to retain him.

Great teams take care of their own great talents. And while you cannot sign everyone, it was clear that Buckner was a top-five player for the 49ers. The Rams and Chiefs have no issues keeping those players and they are contenders every season. It is something that Jimmie Ward cited on Monday, which Buckner echoed his thoughts on the call as well.

"Initially, I was like, man, the Chiefs did it," Buckner said. "Tampa Bay did it. The Rams did it. People put the effort to find a way, and some guys don't and it just doesn't go your way."

And therein lies the issue. The effort. It looks like the 49ers looked to Paraage Marathe for his thoughts on extending Buckner and he immediately shut down that notion. This is where Buckner felt hurt from the trade that it didn't seem like much or enough effort was put into it. 

Sunday night is surely going to be an intriguing one to watch with Buckner's return after his comments stoked the fire.