DeForest Buckner has played more snaps than any other rookie defensive lineman this season, but the 49ers aren’t concerned their first-round pick will get worn down by the end of the season.
“The guys that we think give us the best chance to win, we want them out on the field as much as they possibly can,” defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said this week. “When they need a blow, we get them a blow. So we get them a break. But for us to win football games, DeForest Buckner has to be out there for 80 percent of the plays.”
Through seven games, Buckner has played 75.8 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, although he missed the Week 5 game against Arizona with a foot injury. In the most recent game against Tampa Bay, he played 73 of 75 snaps (97 percent).
Buckner, selected seventh overall, was the second defensive lineman taken in the draft. Rookies drafted in the top 10 generally are expected to play extensively, and the 49ers always thought Buckner would be able to handle a big workload in his first season.
“He’s a guy that played a high percentage of downs at the collegiate level,” general manager Trent Baalke said on the day Buckner was drafted. “You look at most of these guys coming out, D-linemen, they play 50, 60 percent of the snaps. DeForest the last two years has played plus-80 (percent).”
Last year at Oregon, which still runs the fast-paced offense it ran under coach Chip Kelly, Buckner played more defensive snaps than all but one Division I defender.
“Yeah, definitely at times it kind of hurt us on our defense because they were scoring so fast and we just get right back on the field,” he said. “But, you know, that’s why we practice against them every day, to get our conditioning up and everything and be in shape.”
This year has been no different.
Buckner leads all rookie defensive linemen in tackles with 36 – the next highest is Baltimore’s Michael Pierce, who has 16 – and in snaps. He has logged 389, which is 35 more than the next most used rookie at the position, Jacksonville’s Yannick Ngakoue.
Buckner ranks 20th overall among lineman in that category, a ranking that is likely to rise considering that not all teams have had their bye week yet.
Hyde questionable – Running back Carlos Hyde appears to be a game-time decision as he tries to return from an Oct. 16 shoulder injury.
Hyde was the only 49er who was limited in Friday’s practice. He’s listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Saints. Neither linebacker Aaron Lynch (ankle) nor cornerback Rashard Robinson (knee) practiced this week. Both are out for Sunday’s game.
The good news: Nose tackle Glenn Dorsey (knee) and linebacker Nick Bellore (shoulder) practiced in full Friday after being limited earlier in the week and should be available against New Orleans. Dorsey missed the most recent game against the Buccaneers.
If Hyde can’t play, the 49ers will go to a rotation involving DuJuan Harris, Shaun Draughn and Mike Davis. In the most recent game, Harris received 26 snaps, Draughn 23 and Davis 21.
No moves on Huff – No team made a waiver claim on Eagles wide receiver Josh Huff, who was released by the Eagles after his arrest earlier this week in New Jersey.
Huff, whom Kelly and the Eagles drafted in the third round in 2014, was arrested on suspicion of DUI, possession of marijuana, illegal possession of a firearm and having six hollow-tip bullets in his car after police pulled him over for speeding on a bridge just south of the Eagles’ training complex.
Teams likely will wait until Huff’s legal issues become clearer before making a decision on the 25-year-old wideout.