No. 3: Defensive End Arik Armstead
With the 49ers investing so heavily in their defensive line the last three offseasons, third-year defensive end Arik Armstead may wind up being a “player without a position” entering 2017.
Yet the Niners are going to experiment with Armstead at the LEO position, rushing quarterbacks off the edge in the team’s new 4-3 defensive scheme.
It might not be a perfect fit, but Armstead could wind up turning heads if he assumes the role well enough.
In fact, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh talked about Armstead’s potential fit in his system stating:
"He moves well. The concern was that he’s so big and he doesn’t exactly fit the prototype, but he’s so athletic. He’s so long and he’s got a good first step he just needs to get more comfortable in the things we’re asking him to do physically."
Armstead will not only be trying to learn a new position in a new defense with a new coaching staff, but he’ll also be competing with Ahmad Brooks, Aaron Lynch and Tank Carradine, to name a few, for significant playing time.
And while the new coaching staff said all the right things regarding Armstead, it will be “put up or shut up” time, fair or unfair, come training camp.
With youth and athleticism on his side, Armstead has a good chance of sticking around and becoming a contributor on this 53-man roster.