49ers

Arik Armstead looking forward to playing aggressive style on 49ers' D-line

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USATSI

Arik Armstead looking forward to playing aggressive style on 49ers' D-line

Arik Armstead enters his fifth NFL season finally secure in the knowledge that not only he knows where he fits best along the 49ers’ defensive line, but his coaches also have a handle on his role.

“It’s kind of unfortunate with injuries early in my career, and new coaches coming in, we have this guy who can do X, Y and Z, but he hasn’t been on the field to go through a whole season to lock down a position,” Armstead said on the 49ers Insider Podcast.

“But I think now having a whole year, having a coaching staff for three years now, playing in the same scheme, I think my coaches know me a lot better. They know what I can do and they know how to use me.”

Armstead figures to line up at “big end” in the 49ers’ base defense. He is best-suited for playing the five-technique, lining up on the outside shoulder of an opposing offensive lineman or in the “wide nine,” in which he moves to the outside of the tight end.

“And on third down I’m an inside, dominant pass-rusher rushing against guards,” Armstead said. “That’s kind of the game plan they have for me.”

Armstead figures to benefit from the teachings of new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, whom the 49ers hired shortly after the end of the season when the Miami Dolphins fired coach Adam Gase and did not retain most of his coaching staff.

“There are read defenses and there are attacking defenses,” Armstead said. “He really wants us to attack and get off the ball and establish a new line of scrimmage and be violent and physical out there and kind of wreak havoc. So that’s the mentality that he’s preaching and how he wants us to play.”

After struggling with shoulder and hand injuries in 2016 and ’17 that limited him to just 14 games and 10 starts in those two seasons, Armstead started all 16 games last season. He was constantly moved around on the defensive line in his first three NFL seasons.

"Yeah, I definitely felt that frustration, being moved around,” Armstead said.

“As a D-lineman, you’re moved around a lot. I think I’m versatile, so I think when there’s much expected out of you, much is required.”

With more of a defined role last season, Armstead recorded a career-best 48 tackles and three sacks. He proved to be a dominant defender against the run, and has the potential to break out as a pass-rusher. The 49ers picked up his fifth-year option, paying him more than $9 million for the upcoming season.

[RELATED: 49ers to give consideration to Quinnen Williams at No. 2 overall]

DeForest Buckner recorded 12 sacks last season, and the 49ers acquired outside pass rusher Dee Ford in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs. The 49ers are likely to use the No. 2 overall draft pick to select another top pass-rush threat.

“I’m going to be productive when I’m on the field and get pressure and get sacks and do my job,” Armstead said. “It’s going to make it a lot easier having a lot of talent around me.”

Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown rumors show Seahawks desperate to catch 49ers

Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown rumors show Seahawks desperate to catch 49ers

One yard. One yard is all that kept Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch fresh off bartending duty at the Coliseum and Pete Carroll from winning the NFC West and sending the 49ers to the wild-card round.

The Seahawks, despite their flawed roster, still appear to be a big threat to the 49ers in the division. As long as Seattle has Wilson under center that will remain true. But the Seahawks know they need more to keep up with the 49ers' loaded roster, which is why there continues to be rumors of their interest in signing Antonio Brown and bringing back Josh Gordon.

Longtime reporter John Clayton told 710 ESPN in Seattle that there is an 85 percent chance the Seahawks bring back Gordon, while it's very unlikely Brown takes his circus to the Pacific Northwest.

Gordon, 28, was suspended in December after playing five games with the Seahawks for violating the NFL's drug and performance-enhancing drug policies. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported in March that Gordon plans to apply for reinstatement but it's clear if he would face further discipline if he's allowed back into the league or if the NFL's more relaxed marijuana policies will allow him back without further punishment.

As for Brown, Clayton reported May 20 that Wilson would love to add the former Pro Bowler. That, however, is unlikely as Brown's current legal troubles make it impossible to determine if the NFL will allow him to play once he signs with a team.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The Seahawks' rumored interest in two talented but troubled wide receivers underscores a few things. The first, which we knew, is that coach Pete Carroll never has met a gamble he didn't like. The second is that, as close as they were to the NFC West title last year, Seattle knows Wilson needs help in order to be a true threat to the 49ers.

The Seahawks have D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, but after those two there's a stark drop off when it comes to offensive weapons. Running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny both have trouble staying healthy as does tight end Will Dissly who has had a season-ending injury two years in a row.

Seattle signed running back Carlos Hyde to add another ball carrier to their backfield, but they need to give Wilson another explosive playmaker to maximize one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

Despite the loss of DeForest Buckner, the 49ers' defense still figures to be among the top units in the NFL. Of the four games the 49ers lost last season, one came in overtime to Wilson, one to Lamar Jackson in a rain-soaked affair, one came to Matt Ryan and Julio Jones and the other was to Patrick Mahomes and the "Legion of Zoom" in the Super Bowl.

As shown, the best way to combat the 49ers' ferocious defense is by having a top-flight quarterback and multiple explosive offensive weapons.

The Seahawks' record last year was indicative of Wilson's greatness and not of a complete roster. The Seahawks ranked 14th in scoring differential at (plus-0.6). They won a number of close games but still have many warts on their roster which they trust Wilson to cover up. Their offensive line will have three new starters in 2020, and it will be difficult for them to build chemistry with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic altering the offseason.

[RELATED: 49ers new rival Hopkins vows he's best WR in NFL]

Wilson, 31, is in his prime and remains the best player in the division. He has the ability to will the Seahawks to a win on any given Sunday. But even the greats need help.

The Seahawks know their roster doesn't stack up to the 49ers, and so visions of Gordon or Brown catching passes from Wilson will dance through the head of Carroll and general manager John Schneider.

But Gordon isn't the player he was five years ago and Brown is just as likely to be in a straightjacket as a Seahawks uniform come fall.

The 49ers have the upper hand on their rivals and the Seahawks' constant infatuation with troubled receivers shows their desperation.

Colin Kaepernick reacts to George Floyd's death in police custody

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AP

Colin Kaepernick reacts to George Floyd's death in police custody

George Floyd’s recent death while in Minneapolis police custody continues to elicit a strong reaction from Americans.

On Thursday morning, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick joined the millions to voice their opinion after video showed an officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for an extended period of time. Floyd died shortly after being arrested Monday, and the outcry was almost immediate, with the officers involved being fired and protestors taking to the streets.

[RELATED: Curry, Kerr among sports figures outraged by Floyd's death]

Many on social media, including Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, posted side-by-side images of Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games and the officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck, citing the differing reactions to them.

The protests in Minnesota became increasingly violent Thursday night, including a local police precinct being destroyed.