2016: Thomas Herrion Memorial Award, PFWA All-Rookie Team
2017: Hazeltine Iron Man Award
2018: NFC Pro Bowl, Len Eshmont Award, Hazeltine Iron Man Award
Registered 12.0 sacks in 2018, the most by a member of the 49ers in a single season since LB Aldon Smith registered 19.5 sacks in 2012 and the 4th-most in a single season by a 49ers defender since 2000.
NFL players had the opportunity to participate in the NFL’s annual My Cause, My Cleats campaign during a designated home game between Weeks 13-15 of 2018. Buckner and his teammates represented their respective causes with custom-designed cleats in an effort to raise awareness and funding. Beyond Differences inspires students at all middle schools nationwide to end social isolation and create a culture of belonging for everyone.
When Buckner was 13 years old, his father, George, was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him in a coma for six months. Upon his awakening, George summoned DeForest to his bedside, where the two had a ‘man-to-man’ conversation, as his mother, Maria, puts it. After the life-changing event and heartfelt conversation, that is when Buckner believes he became a man and took more responsibility with his family. He became a mentor" to his younger brother, Kenya, and began to understand the values his father had instilled in him. "He was hard on us, and disciplined us, shaped us, Buckner said. “He taught us about respect, that it’s earned and you have to treat everyone around you like you want to be treated."
During the 2019 offseason, members of the 49ers took park in the Second Annual Picnic on the Field, located on the Levi’s Stadium field. Buckner and his teammates spent the day taking pictures with fans, who enjoyed music, food and games in support of the 49ers Foundation. The foundation, in conjunction with NFL Huddle for 100, partnered with Amazon to fill 1,000 backpacks full of school supplies. Fans and players joined together to assemble the packs, which were distributed throughout the community to children in need.
The 49ers worked alongside the humanitarian-relief organization Convoy of Hope on December 4, 2018, and hosted 1,500 guests in-need from Bay Area nonprofits and schools at Levi’s® Stadium for a free holiday resource fair. Buckner and his 49ers teammates distributed groceries, toys, books, shoes and other holiday offerings to the guests. The attendees also received haircuts, utilized health resources and took family portraits or professional headshots. Convoy of Hope is a nonprofit organization that directs children’s feeding initiatives, hosts community outreach programs and provides disaster response resources to those in need in the Bay Area and throughout the world.
Buckner and his teammates surprised guests of the CityTeam Men’s Program and House of Grace on November 20, 2018, at Levi’s Stadium. The group believed they were just taking a tour of the stadium, but they were in fact joining the 49ers players for a night full of exciting events. The guests received a makeover and haircut, selected a new outfit from Dockers, snapped a new headshot and then shared a Thanksgiving dinner with the 49ers players.
After posing for a photoshoot, Buckner and his teammates joined Levi’s in support of breast, colon and pediatric cancer warriors at the Crucial Catch Fashion Show presented by Dignity Health on October 2, 2018. 49ers players and cancer warriors took to the runway to show off their attire and share their stories of strength and courage with the audience.
As part of the 49ers annual Thanksgiving celebrations, Buckner and his teammates visited San Jose to serve a holiday feast to over 300 people in need. Guests enjoyed turkey along with all of the usual holiday sides, while getting to know the 49ers.“This is the season of giving and Thanksgiving is all about being thankful,” said Buckner. “I’m very thankful for what I have in life and the blessings that came my way. But some people aren’t as fortunate. Being able to give back and serve food is a great feeling and it’s a blessing.”
In July of 2017, Buckner returned to his hometown of Waianae, HI, to host a free non-contact youth football clinic at Waianae High School. “Having my first camp back in my hometown means a lot to me because this is where it all started,” said Buckner. "Where I grew up shaped a big part of my life and having the opportunity to give back to my community means the world to me. I just want the youth in our community to see that dreams do come true."
During his time at Oregon, Buckner used art as an outlet for his emotions outside of football, even earning the nickname "Dr. DeFo" from his art professor for his passion, focus and patience with his pieces. Buckner enrolled in a class called “Art of the Athlete,” which provides engagement for student-athletes through the visual arts and has the student-athletes help in the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art workshops for children with disabilities. During the open exhibition at the end of the class, Buckner was awarded with the highest honor, the breakout artist award for his piece titled "King of Pop" showing himself in a Michael Jackson type pose that was spray painted on vinyl."