49ers roster: 5 players who must step up most after bye week

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Arik Armstead, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead (91) Mandatory Credit: Chris Coduto-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 4: 49ers defensive tackle Arik Armstead

For those who thought the Niners wasted money on a big contract for defensive tackle Arik Armstead entering 2020, the last few weeks when he’s been absent with a foot injury have revealed the painful truth.

San Francisco’s defense, particularly against the run, has needed Armstead in a big way. And while the below stat doesn’t take into account the 49ers’ defensive domination over Los Angeles’ ground game in Week 8, the previous weeks have seen coordinator DeMeco Ryans’ run defense take a huge hit, as our good Twitter friend @Coach_Yac pointed out:

Armstead is nearing a healthy return, although the hope will be his foot injury isn’t something that lingers over the second half of the season.

What’s important, though, is for Armstead to clog up those interior rush lanes that can be vulnerable in the Niners’ use of a wide-9 defensive alignment.

Plus, Armstead’s flexibility to play outside and set the edge against the run has been missed.

Regardless, San Francisco will want to clean up its run defense, and having Armstead back fully healthy is vital in making that happen.