No. 2: DL Arik Armstead
There’s been a fair amount of chatter about the value of defensive lineman Arik Armstead, a former first-round pick out of Oregon who, for various reasons, has struggled to live up to his draft position.
For one, he struggled to stay healthy after a decent rookie year, featuring in just 14 games during the 2016 and 2017 seasons combined before bouncing back in 2018.
Not to mention the fact the 49ers followed up the drafting of Armstead by bringing in another former Duck, in fellow defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, and then Stanford product Solomon Thomas just a year later, which pushed Armstead further and further to the fringe of the line.
Nonetheless, the team did pick up his fifth-year option, but as of yet, there haven’t been any conversations about his long-term future, making this season the proverbial lame-duck year for Armstead.
His performance on Sunday could begin the conversation about his long-term value to the team.
Armstead finished the game with five total tackles, one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss, and was just a menace to the interior of the offensive line for the Buccaneers. He was also credited with one additional quarterback hit in the game.
As edge rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa look to round into form after missing the entire preseason (each picked up a sack in Sunday’s game, but looked to grow into the game as it went on), Armstead’s continued maturation as an interior pass-rusher and run defender will be key.
If the 49ers get this type of production throughout the season from Armstead, along with Ford, Bosa and Buckner begin to establish themselves, this defensive line is certainly going to live up to the preseason hype.