Familiarity breeds contempt between rivals.
It can also lead to begrudging respect.
Arik Armstead has played against Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson more than any other signal-caller in his NFL career. The 49ers defensive end, unsurprisingly, named Wilson as the best player he has played against in his five seasons with San Francisco.
"Russell Wilson is always tough to play against, of course,” Armstead told NBC Sports’ Chris Simms on the “Chris Simms Unbuttoned” podcast. “I've had plenty of battles (with him). So I would say consistently he's probably the toughest because we've played against him so much."
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Armstead debuted with the 49ers in 2015, and Wilson has more wins against San Francisco during that span (eight) than he has in his career against any of the 30 other teams. The Seahawks are 8-2 against the 49ers since Armstead’s rookie year, with Wilson leading the way.
The QB completed two-thirds of his passes in those 10 games, throwing 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Wilson didn’t enjoy nearly as much success against the 49ers’ vaunted defense last season, managing just 6.28 yards per attempt and getting sacked six times.
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Armstead himself has 2.5 sacks against Wilson, and he’ll have plenty of chances to do so for the foreseeable future. The 49ers signed Armstead to a five-year contract extension at the beginning of the NFL’s open-negotiating period last month, while Wilson is under contract with the Seahawks through 2023.
The 49ers and Seahawks will play (at least) twice per season during that time. Wilson perhaps won’t reach his past heights against San Francisco as he ages into his mid-30s, but it doesn’t sound like Armstead is going to underestimate him.