Sakamoto: 49ers’ DE Arik Armstead Earning The Team’s Trust One Game At A Time

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When the San Francisco 49ers traded down in the first-round (No. 17) of the 2015 NFL Draft to draft Oregon product DE Arik Armstead, I was skeptical. A player who I considered to be a raw project at best with a high upside, I thought the 49ers could have addressed other pressing needs rather than gamble on a high potential prospect.

However, 49ers GM Trent Baalke and his scouting department thought highly enough to select the Pac-12 kid as they considered him a rare breed — who can play the four-technique. In fact, Baalke himself said in any given draft there are probably only five or six guys who can play what Armstead is capable of playing. “What Arik Armstead can do and the technique he can play, in any given draft there’s only five or six guys that we have on our board that can play a true four-technique in the NFL.”

49ers’ coach Jim Tomsula then gave his assessment about the behemoth defensive-end as he questioned Armstead’s consistency. “When you do watch the tape, you see a guy that tall, his hips are down and he does get push in the pocket in the nickel defense. Now is it as consistent as you want and things like that? ‘No!’ It’s not. But you see it.”

During Armstead’s rookie press conference he alluded to the fact that he had a lot of work ahead of him while needing to gain the team’s trust. “I like to earn everything I get,” Armstead said. “A lot of people have expectations for me and I got to earn their trust. Earn the trust of the organization, earn the trust of the fans, earn the trust of my teammates and coaching staff.”

And apparently Armstead has earned it thus far from many of his teammates. “He has all the physical tools to be dominant. He’s strong, physical and consistent,” said 49ers DE Quinton Dial.

So what should the Forever Faithful expect from their rookie first-round pick with seven games left in the season? More use of Armstead in not only the sub-packages but base defense as well.

With the 49ers continuing to see what kind of players they have, it will be interesting to see how they use Armstead, as I’m sure the Forever Faithful would want a larger sample size to assess his progress up to this point.

In nine games this season, Armstead has recorded seven tackles and 1.0 sack while mainly playing on passing downs.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.