When the San Francisco 49ers traded down in the first-round (No. 17) to select DE Arik Armstead, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. A player who would instantly be buried on the depth-chart behind DE Quinton Dial, DE Glenn Dorsey, and DE Tank Carradine, the addition of Armstead didn’t make much sense considering the team’s other pressing needs.
However, the team selected the Oregon product anyways and through the team’s first two games — made little impact. Fast forward to Week 3 and Armstead had his best game as he recorded three tackles including his first-career NFL sack.
Not great stats for a first-round pick, but what do you expect from a 3-4 defensive end who is primarily being used in sub-packages? And while he has yet to blossom into a full-time starter at the four-technique, he did show signs of life that should have Forever Faithful excited.
During training camp, 49ers GM Trent Baalke spoke to the beat writers to discuss why the team selected Armstead in the first place. “In any given draft there’s only five or six guys on our board who can play a true four-technique in the NFL.”
For those who don’t know– a four-technique is a defensive-end who lines up directly across from the offensive tackle. A four-technique defensive-end must be able to stack-and-shed while peaking into the backfield all while plugging the B and C gaps on certain play-calls.
And that’s exactly what Armstead did against the Cardinals, as he wrecked havoc in the backfield, all while posting the highest defensive grade according to Pro Football Focus with a +1.7.
So what should the Forever Faithful expect from Armstead moving forward? While I don’t see him relishing a starting role this season, expect him to continue to make strides as a pass-rusher as his elongated wingspan should allow him to close passing windows all while getting his hands on the quarterback due to his huge tackling radius.
Armstead spoke about his performance despite losing to the Arizona Cardinals. “I’m just getting more and more comfortable,” Armstead said. “The more I play, the more I get settled in and able to do my job and help my team win.”
With the 49ers preparing for the undefeated Green Bay Packers (3-0), they will need a strong pass-rush from Armstead in the team’s nickel/dime packages, as Packers QB Aaron Rodgers continues to be one of the best.
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