DeForest Buckner is accustomed to marking his calendar for trips to Seattle. During his four-year career at Oregon, annual matchups against the Washington Huskies were always marquee games.
So it's fitting that Buckner's time with the Ducks conditioned him for what's to come during his first trip to the Pacific Northwest as an NFL player. Sunday's Week 3 matchup against the Seahawks will be the rookie's first action in the heated NFC West rivalry.
"It's going to be a great experience to go up there and play the Seahawks," Buckner said. "I've heard the environment is crazy, and it gets pretty loud in there. It's going to remind me a little of Autzen (Stadium). It's going to be fun."
Both teams will enter the contest with a 1-1 record, although the 49ers own the tiebreaker with a 1-0 record in the division. First place will be on the line as San Francisco looks for its first win in Seattle since 2011.
One of the keys to leaving CenturyLink Field with a victory is for Buckner and the rest of the 49ers defensive line to contain Russell Wilson. A bounce-back performance in Week 3 will be in order. San Francisco recorded just one sack of Cam Newton in the team's Week 2 defeat in Carolina and only hit the Panthers quarterback three times.
Buckner has clearly been studying for his next opponent.
The rookie noted that the 49ers need to prepared for two styles of offense in Seattle. When Wilson is under center, the Seahawks prefer a traditional, downfield running game in order to set up play-action. When Wilson gets into the shotgun, that's when Seattle utilizes the zone-read.
San Francisco's front seven will have to counter that with various looks of its own.
"You've got to work certain techniques in your pass-rush," Buckner said. "You can't always go with a speed rush, you've got to switch it up with some power rushes. You've got to keep a balanced rush so you can keep him contained."
Buckner has received the most playing time of any 49ers defensive lineman through two games. It shows Jim O'Neil and the rest of San Francisco's defensive coaching staff has confidence in the rookie no matter the situation. Buckner, who has eight total tackles on the season, explained that he's a player who gets into a rhythm as the offensive line wears down.
"That's how it is with any game for me, even in college," the d-lineman said. "As the game goes on, I start to get a little better and better. It's a blessing that the coaches leave me in there so I can get rolling. I just have to start off stronger."
How else has Buckner progressed from week to week?
"I think I played the run-game better this week, getting my pad level lower," the rookie said. "I've still got to work on my pass-rush game. I'm slowly progressing."