The 49ers didn’t want to trade DeForest Buckner. The 49ers sent the defensive tackle to the Colts because they felt they no longer could afford him, General Manager John Lynch said Monday.
Even though Lynch did what he thought he had to do, it still hurt.
“Probably the toughest thing I’ve done since I’ve been a General Manager here, and that’s the trade with DeForest Buckner,” Lynch said, via Nick Wagoner of ESPN. “It’s a difficult part of this business. One that I don’t think you can really prepare yourself when you move on from a player who embodies everything that you want to be about. We spend a lot of time talking about what’s a 49er to us, and DeForest Buckner embodied that in every way both on and off the field.”
The 49ers received the No. 13 choice in return for Buckner, who signed a four-year, $84 million contract with the Colts. San Francisco re-signed defensive ends Arik Armstead and Ronald Blair III, free safety Jimmie Ward and offensive lineman Ben Garland with the cap savings.
D.J. Jones, Solomon Thomas, Kevin Givens, Jullian Taylor and Kentavius Street are the in-house options to help fill the void left by Buckner. The 49ers also could draft a defensive tackle.
“We talked about we wanted to do our best to keep this team together,” Lynch said. “It became apparent in the discussions with him that that wasn’t going to be a possibility along with keeping our team together as we wanted to do so.
“The Colts entered the picture with a pick, not only a first-round pick but in the upper half, and we weighed that with the opportunity to sign other guys. It was one of those business decisions that’s so tough. [Colts G.M.] Chris Ballard is a guy I respect as much as anybody in this business and I think we were able to get something done, but it’s not without a heavy heart that we move on from [Buckner] because he’s such a big part of what we’ve been able to do. We wish him and his family nothing but the best.”