49ers

49ers' Arik Armstead identifies areas in which he can improve in 2020

49ers

Defensive lineman Arik Armstead parlayed his breakout NFL season into a contract extension with the 49ers that is scheduled to pay him $17 million per season.

The 49ers made the decision to retain Armstead and trade defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round draft pick. The 49ers then traded back one spot and selected South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw at No. 14 overall.

With Kinlaw taking over for Buckner, Armstead said he does not anticipate any change to his role. He will still line up at defensive end in base situations, then move inside to rush the passer at defensive tackle on nickel downs, he said.

The only thing Armstead expects to change is his production.

He believes his 2019 season, in which he registered career-highs with 10 sacks and 52 tackles, was just the beginning of what he can accomplish.

“I can be better in a lot of ways,” Armstead said in a video call with Bay Area reporters. “I do a lot of self-scouting.”

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Armstead, 26, has been healthy for two consecutive seasons after missing 18 games over the 2016 and ’17 seasons with injuries. He said he spent a lot of the offseason working on getting off quicker at the snap of the ball.

 

He said he believes he can still make dramatic improvements as a pass rusher, whether he is working outside against an offensive tackle or in the tight quarters of the interior line against guards and centers.

“Just becoming a better all-around player,” he said, “and building off of the things I did last year and taking it to another level.”

While the pass defense typically gets the most attention, Armstead said the 49ers have to pay closer attention to shoring up their run defense.

The 49ers owned the top-ranked pass defense in the NFL last season, but they must tighten up things in the run game.

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The 49ers' run defense ranked 17th in the NFL last season, allowing 1,802 yards on the ground. The opposition averaged 4.5 yards per rushing attempt, ranking 23rd in the league.

“One thing we talked about, we were tops in a lot of categories except run defense,” Armstead said. “We were middle of the pack. (We’re) definitely looking to get better in that aspect.”