LA Rams vs. SF 49ers: 5 players to watch most on Sunday night
No. 1: SF 49ers DL Arik Armstead
After signing a new contract over the offseason, it would be simple to say defensive lineman Arik Armstead has had a quiet season so far in 2020.
And while the raw numbers haven’t been there — he’s only had two sacks through five games — Armstead is actually among the leaders at his position in various categories, according to Pro Football Focus. Those include overall defensive grade (80.0, ninth), run defense (72.0, 21st), pass rush (70.2, 24th), and total pressures (19, tied ninth).
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There was always going to be a dropoff in his numbers from last season, where he was credited with 10 sacks and was a menace in run defense, too. And the loss of EDGE Nick Bosa and not having the now-Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle DeForest Bucker next to him meant meeting those numerical expectations was always going to be a major ask.
But he has been a productive member of the defensive line and that will continue to be an important role for Armstead to play on Sunday against a Rams offensive line that has been solid against the run (seventh per Football Outsiders) and the pass (also seventh) so far this year.
The key for Sunday will be getting home and taking down Rams quarterback Jared Goff for sacks and loss of yards because otherwise, the signal-caller is competent enough to find an open receiver and get the ball to them.
Yes, EDGE Kerry Hyder will be key to this as he has been throughout the season, and rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw will be vital up the middle, too, but Armstead is the lone star left on this defensive line and he will need to show why on Sunday.
Otherwise, it could be a long night for the pass rush, which could spell an even longer one for the defensive backfield.
In the end, those would mean bad news for the SF 49ers chances of victory against the surging Los Angeles Rams.