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49ers free agency preview: Buckner’s extension could affect interior shopping




SANTA CLARA — Whatever money the 49ers earmarked for the defensive tackle position could very well be part of a historic contract. For one of their own.
DeForest Buckner is eligible for an extension after his third season produced 12 sacks and a Pro Bowl debut.
With fellow first-round picks Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas pegged to rotate inside next to Buckner on passing downs, the 49ers enter free agency without a great need at that position entering free agency.
Veteran nose tackle Earl Mitchell became expendable with the maturation of D.J. Jones, but could the 49ers reverse course and seek an experienced run-stuffer?
More options abound on the line with Ronald Blair, Sheldon Day, Jullian Taylor and Kevtavius Street.
Now, does the quality match up with the quantity of that in-house depth? Perhaps new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek has designs on moving players into different roles, on shipping players off the roster, or on bringing in players familiar to him.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh inherited one of the NFL’s historically awful run defenses and has made that unit respectable. One aspect that remains dreadful, however, is the 49ers’ inability to force turnovers, and improving upon that could mean improving the roster through subtle free agency moves.
Who’s here: DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Sheldon Day, Jullian Taylor, Kentavius Street.

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The defensive tackle market
Franchise player: Grady Jarrett (Atlanta)
Ndamukong Suh, L.A. Rams: Here we go again. A physical force at 6-4, 313 pounds but had just 4 1/2 sacks even though Aaron Donald was drawing double teams alongside. Got $14 million from the Rams, it’s possible his huge money days are over after cashing with Miami in 2015. An end in 3-4 but strength is pushing from inside.
Sheldon Richardson, Minnesota: Not playing up to level of his early days with Jets and he won’t likely get $8 million as he did last season, but Richardson (6-3, 295) can still defend the run and occasionally push the pocket. Started all 16 games last season for first time since 2014 with the Jets.
Malik Jackson, Jacksonville: A free agent cautionary tale, Jackson signed a six-year deal worth a maximum of $90 million in 2016 after starring for the Broncos Super Bowl champions. Jackson (6-5, 290) played reasonably well in 2016-17 but dropped off last season with 3 1/2 sacks in 16 games with 10 starts. Will be looking to prove his worth and price should be reasonable.
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Henry Anderson, N.Y. Jets: Anderson managed to play in 16 games for the first time in 2019 and graded out well with eight sacks, eight quarterback hits and 29 hurries. It all happened after recovering from a torn ACL, so a team could game Anderson’s injury problems are behind him.
Danny Shelton, New England: Shelton played in 16 games with the Patriots with one start and had just 21 tackles, but served his purpose as a nose tackle at 6-4, 345 (nicknamed Feastmode) and will land somewhere as a rotational interior defender. A former first-round draft pick of Cleveland out of Washington.
Others: Timmy Jernigan (Philadelphia), Corey Liuget (L.A. Chargers), Domata Peko (Denver), Haloti Ngata (Philadelphia), Malcom Brown (New England), Mario Edwards Jr. (N.Y. Giants).

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