San Francisco 49ers first-round draft picks DeForest Buckner and Joshua Garnett are fitting in nicely in their new home.
The team's No. 7 and 28 overall selections on Thursday night – who were both former college recruits of coach Chip Kelly – have already won games inside of Levi's® Stadium.
They'll look to win several more for Kelly in 2016 and beyond.
The former Oregon Duck defensive lineman and Stanford Cardinal guard were members of the past two Pac-12 Championship-winning teams. Each player was triumphant at their future NFL team's home venue without knowing it.
"That's actually one of my favorite memories," Buckner said in his Friday arrival press conference. "Me, Arik (Armstead) and (Oregon DL Alex) Balducci, we all came in together and we all got to start together on the D-Line our junior year and finally getting that ring, it meant a lot. Especially playing in this stadium, it was just an awesome moment, and I'll never forget it."
In San Francisco, Buckner will be reunited with Kelly, his former college head coach and his former defensive line coach, Jerry Azzinaro, plus Armstead.
With Armstead flanking him in Oregon's defense in 2014, Buckner used the 51-13, conference championship victory over the Arizona Wildcats to propel himself up prospect rankings. As a senior, the 6-foot-7, 290-pound defender went back to school to graduate with a degree in criminology. He totaled 10.5 sacks on his way to picking up Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors.
The native of Honolulu, Hawaii, who was joined at his press conference by his proud parents and Armstead, said he was pleased to be playing close to his family and friends on the islands.
"It's just a plane ride away for them," the imposing defender said with a grin.
Garnett, too, experienced the thrill of playing in the Bay Area and winning a Pac-12 title. The 6-foot-5, 325-pound Morris Trophy Winner as the Pac-12's top lineman, finished the year strong with a conference championship win over USC and a Rose Bowl thrashing of Iowa. Garnett, a native of Puyallup, Wash., played a big role in Christian McCaffrey's Heisman Trophy-caliber season.
Garnett returned to Santa Clara earlier this month for the 49ers local pro day workout. The mauling lineman, who won the Outland Trophy as the nation's top interior lineman, did not need to participate in field drills. Garnett, however, had other reasons for donning a red jersey and taking part in the 90-minute workout.
"I know a lot of people kind of had me as a guy who was running the power scheme at Stanford a lot," Garnett explained. "I just wanted to show the coaches that, 'Hey, I can come in and run zone.' They saw me at Stanford's Pro Day and I wanted to let (49ers offensive line coach) coach (Pat Flaherty) Flat really get his hands on me again, let coach (Chip) Kelly really see me again."
In the workout, Garnett demonstrated he could move in space and execute San Francisco's blocking schemes, so much so that the 49ers traded back into the first round to take the talented guard.
"I've always wanted to be a 49er, and so I wanted to come here and showcase my talents even though a lot of people didn't think that I needed to," Garnett said. "I was definitely excited that I did and that I was able to build this relationship with the coaches."
Both first-year players will get a chance to showcase their abilities when the 49ers host a rookie minicamp next weekend.