49ers

Arik Armstead not thinking about contract amid breakout year for 49ers

Arik Armstead not thinking about contract amid breakout year for 49ers

SANTA CLARA — Not too long ago, 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead had trouble staying on the field and was labeled as someone who was not living up to first-round expectations. 

Armstead only was able to suit up for 14 games from 2016-2017, landing on injured reserve both seasons. But fast-forward to Week 7 of 2019, and Armstead is making a case for huge contract after he closes out his fifth season with San Francisco.

Armstead is set to have a career-best season, as he's already racked up 2.5 sacks, four quarterback hits, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and 20 total tackles, four of which were for a loss. The 49ers defense has been bolstered by several offseason additions, including edge rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, and Armstead has been reaping the rewards. 

“It’s been great,” Armstead told NBC Sports Bay Area. “As a whole defense, they’ve had a big impact. It’s fun playing with great players. Those guys are extremely talented and they bring a whole different element to the defense.” 

With the edges sealed up, Armstead has been able to enjoy putting his hand in the dirt next to long-time teammate DeForest Buckner. The two have been playing together since their time at the University of Oregon. Both former Ducks stand 6-foot-7, and limit a quarterback's downfield vision tremendously. 

“Super fun, like it’s always been going out there with a great friend,” Armstead said. “We’ve been going to battle together for a long time. Just trying to go out there and dominate and have an impact on our team like we have had over the years.” 

Armstead won’t admit thinking about if his NFL future includes playing with the 49ers beyond this year. He has been focused on each opponent as they come, while enjoying the team’s victories -- at least just a little bit. 

“I’m just taking it week by week,” Armstead said. “Contract stuff, it’s out of my control. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen with that. All I can focus on is preparing for the game and try to go out there and dominate and win my matchups and show what I can do.”

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Armstead has used his production on the field not only to increase his own future contract value, but also to fund equal opportunities in education for underserved youth in his home town of Sacramento. He is donating $1,000 dollars for every sack and $250 for every tackle he makes this season to his foundation. He previously raised $100,000 at his charity gala to fund programs. 

One of the events that Armstead created with his foundation was a trip for 30 students to spend the entire day at 49ers headquarters. They participated in a career panel with 49ers employees as well as getting a tour of the facility.

For more information on donating to Armstead’s foundation, visit www.arikarmstead91.com.

Watch 49ers' Robbie Gould use kids as goal posts in kicking session

Watch 49ers' Robbie Gould use kids as goal posts in kicking session

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

With the global coronavirus pandemic forcing athletes to stay home, they are finding unique ways to train and stay in shape.

For 49ers kicker Robbie Gould, that means he can't practice his craft at the team's facility or any other football complex.

So, on Sunday, Gould got creative.

Yep. Gould lined his kids up as makeshift goalposts and picked footballs over them.

As Gould noted in his tweet, he did make sure his kids were wearing protective gear.

It's definitely an interesting way for Gould to bond with his kids, but again, the choices are limited while everyone is staying home in an effort to flatten the coronavirus curve.

Last year, Gould asked the 49ers to trade him, a request they did not fulfill. Instead, the two sides agreed to a new four-year contract.

By Gould's standards, he's coming off the worst season of his 15-year career. He made 23 of his 31 field goal attempts, a 74.2 percentage. The 37-year-old did make 41 of his 42 extra-point attempts in 2019.

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If Gould bounces back in 2020, you can give some of the credit to his kids.

Merton Hanks hypes Conference USA prospects to 49ers, other NFL clubs

Merton Hanks hypes Conference USA prospects to 49ers, other NFL clubs

Merton Hanks is not shy about reaching out to his former NFL team to provide tips on college prospects he knows well.

Hanks, who played eight seasons with the 49ers (1991-98) and won a Super Bowl, is the Senior Associate Commissioner of Conference USA, which consists of 14 football-playing universities.

“We want to make sure and give our young men every opportunity to be viewed by NFL clubs,” Hanks said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “So I tend to call my peer group around the NFL to make sure they’re paying attention to our players.

“Oh, I bug everybody, (including) the 49ers with John Lynch and Martin Mayhew, that whole staff. They do a great job of sourcing talent from Division III all the way up to the (power five). They go to where the good players are, and we have some good players in the conference.”

The 49ers have six players from Conference USA on their roster, including such draft picks as safety Tarvarius Moore (Southern Mississippi), and receivers Trent Taylor (Louisiana Tech) and Richie James (Middle Tennessee State).

The 49ers signed quarterback Nick Mullens (Southern Mississippi) as an undrafted rookie in 2017, and he started eight games for the club in 2018.

One of the top prospects from Conference USA this year is Florida Atlantic tight end Harrison Bryant, who undoubtedly is on the 49ers’ radar.

The 49ers will be looking to add a tight end in the draft to pair with George Kittle. Bryant was the 2019 Mackey Award winner as the top tight end in college football.

“He reminds me of Brent Jones,” Hanks said, “a good pass-catching tight end and a willing blocker.”

Hanks also mentioned defensive back Amik Robertson of Louisiana Tech. Hanks envisions Robertson overcoming his less-than-ideal size (5-foot-8, 187 pounds) to carve out a 10-year NFL career with a playing style that reminds some of Tyrann Mathieu.

With the restrictions on private workouts and pro days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hanks said he believes the college athletes from Conference USA or from any college program who were not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine are at an inherent disadvantage this year.

“Those players are in a bit of a tough spot, in the sense that teams won’t be able to circle back and get on campus and really take a look at them,” Hanks said.

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One Conference USA prospect who might not suffer from not being invited to the combine is Middle Tennessee defensive end Tyshun Render.

New England coach Bill Belichick went to campus in late-February to pace Render through a workout while most of his NFL peers were in Indianapolis for the combine.

“Conference USA has been fortunate,” Hanks said. “We’re a football-playing conference in every sense. We put a lot of resources toward football and NFL clubs understand that they can come get good players.”

49ERS FROM CONFERENCE USA
LB Azeez Al-Shaair, Florida Atlantic
WR Richie James, Middle Tennessee State
S Tarvarius Moore, Southern Mississippi
QB Nick Mullens, Southern Mississippi
WR Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
RB Jeff Wilson Jr., North Texas