No. 2: Defensive lineman Arik Armstead
As I noted in the most recent episode (shameless plug time!) of the Niner Noise Podcast, defensive lineman Arik Armstead, the 49ers former first-round draft pick, might be playing himself into a massive contract this offseason.
The problem is, however, pay-day may be coming from someone other than the 49ers, as Armstead is proving himself to be a top-notch player so far this season.
He continued his reign of terror over opposing offenses on Sunday, ending the game with three tackles, including one for loss, a sack and one additional quarterback hit.
Armstead also posted his second highest Pro Football Focus grade of the season (89.5 overall, and 84.8 versus the run), on the heels of his best performance of the year (90.3 overall grade, 81.2 run stop, 79.6 pass rush) last week against the Rams.
One thing in Armstead’s favor this season is that he’s managed to stay healthy, a problem which has derailed many seasons of his career so far. The other is the defensive line depth, which has allowed defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to rotate players along the line, making sure no one player is on the field for a large percentage of the snaps during a game.
That continued Sunday, with seven different defensive lineman getting at least five snaps. Given the conditions of the field in Washington, this was more than needed.
Armstead’s run of health and ability to remain fresh on the field certainly showed on Sunday, as he made life miserable for the Redskins offensive line throughout the game.