Punahou graduate DeForest Buckner is getting a golden gateway into the National Football League.
The Waianae native and San Francisco 49ers first-round draft selection has been spending the last couple of weeks working out with Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowl MVP Michael Bennett and fellow 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead at Hawaii Optimum Performance in Waipio.
The former Oregon Ducks bookend defensive ends will be reuniting under their former collegiate coach Chip Kelly and defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro in their first season in San Francisco.
“I definitely did hit the lottery with getting picked up by San Francisco,” Buckner said. “A lot of guys, they don’t know anybody going in and they’re kind of just by themselves and I kind of got welcomed into open arms. I got my old head coach back, my old d-line coach back, and my old teammate back — my teammate and good friend — so I’m excited and we’re all excited to see where the season is going to take us.”
The duo combined for 274 tackles and 22 sacks in their storied careers with the Ducks before becoming San Francisco’s back-to-back first round selections in 2015 and 2016.
“Me and DeFo talk all of the time about me leaving early going to the Niners and him coming the next year,” Armstead added. “Everything’s working itself out and hopefully we can stay healthy and have a good year.”
Buckner and Armstead will check into 49ers training camp early next week with the first day of full practice starting on July 30.
“As we’re narrowing down and getting closer to training camp, I really got my mindset on coming into training camp and giving it all I got,” Buckner said, “trying to get as much knowledge and being physically and mentally prepared so I can do my thing out there.”
San Francisco’s first preseason game is set for Aug. 14 against the Texans in Santa Clara.