Keep: Defensive Tackle Arik Armstead
From a financial standpoint, the 49ers would have preferred Solomon Thomas to outplay Arik Armstead in training camp and through this season. It would have allowed John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan to let the free-agent Armstead walk, while keeping Thomas, their guy, on his rookie contract a little while longer.
Instead, the opposite has happened.
Armstead has been arguably San Francisco’s best defensive lineman this year, especially from a consistency standpoint. And he was the first Niners defender to reach 10 sacks on the season, too.
While most of the 49ers opponents’ offensive lines have concentrated on Nick Bosa and/or DeForest Buckner, Armstead has been a prime beneficiary of the frequent one-on-one blocking.
The key point, though, is he’s thriving in it. That production isn’t easy to replicate, as shown in the case with Thomas.
Over the Cap has Armstead’s 2020 contract value at $15.28 million per year, which would be much more affordable if the Niners are able to move Thomas this offseason via a trade.
That might be the best route taken, as Armstead has finally lived up to his 2015 first-round NFL Draft billing.