No. 5: 49ers Defensive Tackle Arik Armstead
Much like Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward, defensive tackle Arik Armstead’s efforts this season haven’t necessarily jumped off the stat sheet. And as a result, the casual fan might think his presence has been little more than pedestrian, especially considering he has just one sack on the year despite being one of the 49ers’ highest-paid players.
Armstead has only eight tackles this season. But his ability to wreak some havoc up front and engage with multiple blockers has afforded other Niners pass-rushers, such as Dee Ford, to have success with more frequent one-on-one matchups.
In 2019, Armstead was the primary beneficiary here, leading that year’s squad with 10 sacks and getting many of those one-on-one matchups.
While he’s not enjoying the statistical production this year, Armstead is still succeeding with a lot of the dirty work, currently emerging as Pro Football Focus‘ top-graded San Francisco defender through four weeks with an impressive 84.6 overall grade.
The 49ers defensive line is still the team’s deepest and arguably most talented unit. And while only some of the names get the recognition, Armstead not necessarily among those, he still is making a notable difference on defense this season.