Arik Armstead open to 49ers using franchise tag on him, wants to stay

Arik Armstead open to 49ers using franchise tag on him, wants to stay

SANTA CLARA — After Arik Armstead’s breakout season, his NFL future is more uncertain than it has been since entering the draft in 2015. 

With no word from his agent or the team, Armstead packed up his belongings on Tuesday not knowing if he would be back in the 49ers' locker room again. 

One thing that is certain is that the Sacramento native will get a sizable paycheck after finishing the 2019 season with a team leading 10 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. 

“Been here my whole career,” Armstead said. “It would be weird to be somewhere else.”  

Armstead did report that he would not be against the idea of being tagged as a franchise player by the club. That would garner him a paycheck somewhere between $15-17 million as a defensive end. 

Over his five-year NFL career Armstead struggled to stay healthy and live up to the expectations of a first-round draft pick. He started every game of the past two seasons but really didn’t flourish until Dee Ford and Nick Bosa arrived in Santa Clara in 2019. 

“I feel like I’m getting into a groove,” Armstead said. “Just excited to take the next steps in my career, continue to be a better player and try to get back to the Super bowl.” 

Armstead understands how special the 49ers’ locker room is, with his own career success mirroring the team’s path with a near-perfect ending in Super Bowl LIV. He would prefer to remain with the club but knows he has no control over his future at the moment. 

“I mean I would love being here and trying to go back to the Super Bowl, so however that’s seen or whoever that has to get done,” Armstead said. “It’s not really my decision what they want to do with me, so at that point I’ll make a decision, when everything is laid out on the table.” 

The 49ers could conceivably figure out a way to keep Armstead in red and gold but it will take a little bit of fiscal manipulation. Long-term deals for tight end George Kittle and fellow former Oregon teammate defensive lineman DeForest Buckner are also on the to-do list. 

Even if Armstead ends up calling another city his home in a few months, he will look back upon his time with the 49ers very fondly.

[RELATED: Kittle in line for big payday]

“This year was amazing,” Armstead said. “Best year of my career, best team I’ve played on but there’s more to be done, more work to do and somebody’s got to do it. I’m just excited that I’m entering this year and grown as a player and excited for the rest of my career.” 

"I’m from Northern California. I would love to be here and continue my career here. I feel like we have a special team that I want to be a part of and try to get back to the Super Bowl.”

This stat shows 49ers star George Kittle's receiving, blocking mastery

This stat shows 49ers star George Kittle's receiving, blocking mastery

George Kittle is a one-of-a-kind tight end, and one stat from football analytics site Pro Football Focus is the latest indication why.

The 49ers star has been, in PFF's estimation, one of just two tight ends since 2018 to rank among the best at his position in receiving and run-blocking.

Kittle's 2,430 receiving yards over the last two seasons are second-best at his position behind Kansas City Chiefs counterpart Travis Kelce, and the Iowa product's per-game average of 81 yards actually topped Kelce. The 26-year-old also set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end (1,377) in 2018, even as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was sidelined for all but four games with a torn ACL. 

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

But the 49ers recognize Kittle is much more than a playmaker, equally valuing his contributions to the team's dominant running game.

“I mean, he had more yards in the pass game as a tight end in the history of the NFL last year,” coach Kyle Shanahan said in January (H/T Jennifer Lee Chan). “So, any time you have a guy like that who's one of the best players on your team who's always just talking about running the ball and playing the physicality in the game and giving everything you can, it helps you hold everyone else a lot more accountable, and rarely do you have to."

While Kittle's skills make him a complete tight end, he reportedly doesn't want to be paid like one. NFL Media's Mike Silver said Friday on "NFL Total Access" that Kittle's agent, Jack Bechta, "[doesn't] care about the tight-end market" in contract-extension negotiations with the 49ers and thinks his client's new deal should reflect Kittle's unique, all-purpose value. 

"I'm being paid to do a George Kittle deal," Silver recalled Bechta saying.

The 49ers and Kittle aren't "close at all" on a new deal as a result, according to Silver.

[RELATED: 49ers' Jimmy G absorbs Montana's wisdom about winning]

There's still plenty of time for the 49ers and Kittle to reach an agreement, as he's entering the final year of his rookie deal. The 49ers, of course, can also use the franchise tag on him heading into the 2021 season.

If the two sides are going to reach a long-term deal, it sure seems like Kittle wants his receiving and blocking contributions reflected in it.

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo absorbs Joe Montana's wisdom about winning

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo absorbs Joe Montana's wisdom about winning

Throughout NFL history, of quarterbacks to start at least 100 career games, only Tom Brady (.773) and Roger Staubach (.746) have posted better regular-season winning percentages than 49ers legend Joe Montana (.713). So, when it comes to knowing the secrets to victory, he's a pretty good source of advice.

Montana won 117 of his 164 career regular-season starts, precisely 100 victories of which came with San Francisco. On Wednesday, he posted a photo on Instagram from the final one of those wins with the 49ers, in which he offered up a secret to his success.

"Winners, I am convinced, imagine their dreams first," Montana wrote. "They want it with all their heart and expect it to come true. There is, I believe, no other way to live."
As of the time of this writing, that post had received 15,685 likes, one of which came from another 49ers quarterback who happens to have a knack for winning as well -- Jimmy Garoppolo.

[RELATED: Where Jimmy G, Carr rank among NFL starting quarterbacks]

Jimmy G, of course, displayed his penchant for winning immediately upon joining the 49ers, winning his first five starts after San Francisco acquired him midway through the 2017 season. Across 24 regular-season starts with the 49ers, he has posted a 19-5 record (.792). Not to mention, he was arguably one missed completion away from winning Super Bowl LIV.

Garoppolo might have his own secrets to his success, but it certainly can't hurt if he picks up a thing or two from Joe Cool.

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