SANTA CLARA -- DeForest Buckner and Joshua Garnett sat next to each other at Levi’s Stadium as teammates on Friday evening.
In mid-November, the future first-round draft picks of the 49ers lined up against each other for nearly every snap of Oregon’s 38-26 victory over Stanford.
It’s expected that offensive linemen play every snap. But it’s uncommon for defensive linemen – even the best of them – to not be shuttled on and off the field regularly during the course of a game.
Garnett, a guard from Stanford, noticed that Buckner, a defensive lineman, never came off the field.
“That was one of the only games where I was like, ‘Jeez. DeFo, he’s lining up at the five-tech outside on the tackle, he was coming in at three-tech, I mean he was doing it all, which was a testament to the type of player he was and the conditioning he had,” Garnett said. “Especially against Stanford, we’re running downhill, we’re running at you every time and a lot of teams it’s easy for a guy to tap out. But, that’s just not the type of player he is or was at Oregon. When you see that you respect that kind of player.”
Buckner said it was all by design when he knew the Stanford offensive line featured Garnett, who would win Outland Trophy as the nation’s top interior lineman.
The 49ers selected Buckner on Thursday with the No. 7 overall pick. The 49ers traded back into the first round to grab Garnett with the 28th selection. Now, they’re teammates after being Pac-12 rivals.
Buckner said Oregon’s scouting report said Garnett was the best guard in the country.
“And, so, when I found that out I wanted to go against him the whole game,” Buckner said. “It’s games like that where you get the opportunity to play against guys like him. So, really good competition and those are games that you really look forward to. Getting ready for the game and everything, I told everybody on the D-Line that I was staying on him the whole night and that I wanted to compete against him because he’s supposed to be the best in the country.”
Garnett shared his scouting report of Buckner.
“I was watching the film, he was tossing guys,” Garnett said. “He’s a real long guy, fast, physical, so I knew that it was going to be a battle, just like he said, all night. We went in, and you respect the player and you kind of relish those opportunity to go against a guy like that where you know that you’ve got to be on your ‘A’ game every single play or it’s going to be a long night for you, but those are the games you look forward to, especially as a guy who is a competitor, a guy who loves the game of football, you don’t want to go against someone who is not a high-caliber player. So, when you get those opportunities you relish the moment.”