49ers

Why Arik Armstead's trainer believes 49ers D-lineman can reach 20 sacks

Why Arik Armstead's trainer believes 49ers D-lineman can reach 20 sacks

49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead took his job home with him last year.

His commitment was rewarded with a breakout season, and a contract that broke the bank.

Armstead’s personal defensive-line coach, Mark Hall, moved into Armstead's South Bay condominium to work with him on technique, film study and nutrition when he was not at the 49ers’ team facility in Santa Clara during the season.

Armstead, who registered nine sacks in his first four NFL seasons, registered 12 sacks in 19 games, including the postseason. The 49ers and Armstead agreed on a five-year, $85 million contract two days before the opening of free agency.

And, now, Armstead is back at work with Hall in Miami, as he looks to take his game to a new level. And his coach believes Armstead has a lot more within his reach.

“Arik left seven sacks out there,” Hall said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “I really believe Arik could’ve had a 19-, 20-sack season. No doubt in my mind. That’s what you’re working toward.

“He had a good year, but Arik could be much better if he continues to work hard and go in the direction to understand the defensive line position, as well as understand the offensive line position.”

The 49ers decided -- concurrently with locking Armstead up to a long-term extension – to trade defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 13 overall pick in the draft.

Armstead and Buckner, along with Sheldon Day and others, are currently working with Hall at a training facility owned by John Bosa, father of Nick and Joey Bosa.

The work they are doing in preparation of the 2020 NFL season continues while so much of the world has been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

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Create Space!

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“We’re working on dynamics, working on strength, working on film, watching plenty of film, and working on angles and stuff, doing a lot of hands and stuff like that,” Hall said. “We can do that in a phone booth. So we have what we need. Everybody here knows what’s expected of them, so it’s not that much of a problem, yet. But it’s getting tougher and tougher by the day.”

[RELATED: Armstead holding raffle to help Sacramento small businesses]

Hall said he expects Armstead, 26, to continue to get more dominant due to his physical skillset and the determination he has shown to hone his craft. Hall said what distinguishes Armstead is his size, strength, agility and work ethic. Armstead has the strongest hips Hall said he has ever seen to go along with incredibly light feet for a man his size.

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“He has great leverage for his height,” Hall said. “He’s 6-8 but he plays (like he’s) 6 foot. His D-line IQ is through the roof from thousands of hours of film study.”

Roger Goodell says NFL didn't listen, doesn't mention Colin Kaepernick

Roger Goodell says NFL didn't listen, doesn't mention Colin Kaepernick

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted Friday that the league was wrong for "not listening to NFL players earlier" and that they "encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest," but his 81-second video didn't mention former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick first sat, then kneeled during the playing of the national anthem before games in the 2016 season to protest police brutality and institutional racism. The QB's protest has recently received renewed attention, as demonstrations against the same issues spring up around the globe following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, in Minneapolis police custody last Monday.

"We, the [NFL], believe black lives matter," Goodell said Friday. "I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no [NFL] and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff.

"We are listening. I am listening. And I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and move forward for a better, more united NFL family."

The commissioner's comments came shortly after the league shared a video of players asking for the NFL to "listen" and admit they were "wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting." Multiple players, including star New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, first shared the video Thursday.

"We will not be silenced," the players said. "We assert our right to peacefully protest."

Protests have taken place nationwide in each of the 10 nights following Floyd's death prior to this story's publication. Floyd pleaded that he couldn't breathe as Derek Chauvin, a since-fired officer who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. The 46-year-old's death occurred within months of Breonna Taylor, 26, and Ahmaud Arbery, 25, dying, all as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disproportionately affect African Americans. Louisville police fatally shot Taylor in her home while reportedly performing a "no-knock" warrant, and two white men allegedly shot and murdered Arbery as he jogged around his Georgia neighborhood.

Demonstrators have taken the streets to protest the same issues Kaepernick highlighted, nearly four years after he first began protesting. Kaepernick, who agreed to kneel during "The Star-Spangled Banner" after consulting with former Seattle Seahawks long-snapper and Green Beret Nate Boyer, faced criticism for disrespecting the American flag and the country's veterans. Goodell said he didn't "necessarily agree with what [Kaepernick was] doing" in his first public comments after Kaepernick's protest.

“We have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great,” Goodell told The Associated Press on Sept. 7, 2016. “I think it’s important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement; and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals.”

Goodell said in 2017 players had a "responsibility" of demonstrating "at the right time and in the right way." The NFL owners approved a national-anthem policy in May 2018 that would've required players to stand on the sideline as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played, but the league and the NFL Players Association announced in July there would be no new policy.

[RELATED: 49ers' Shanahan wants NFL to fix coaching diversity issue]

Kaepernick argued his protest cost him his career in a collusion lawsuit he settled with the league last February. The quarterback opted out of his contract ahead of the 2017 season, when the 49ers told him he'd otherwise be released, and has not been signed since. The NFL organized a workout for Kaepernick at the Atlanta Falcons' facility last November, but Kaepernick pulled out of the workout after the league barred media access and his lawyers deemed a liability waiver "unusual."

"I've been ready for three years, and I've been denied for three years," Kaepernick told reporters after moving the workout to a high school outside of Atlanta. "We all know why I came out here and showed it today in front of everybody -- we have nothing to hide. So we're waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people."

Goodell said in December that the NFL had "moved on" from Kaepernick after he "chose not to take" the opportunity the NFL gave him by moving the workout.

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

49ers' George Kittle reveals which NFL players are toughest to block

49ers' George Kittle reveals which NFL players are toughest to block

George Kittle has never kept his love for run-blocking a secret. Any opportunity to drive a defender into the turf is embraced by the 49ers tight end the same way kids greet the arrival of Christmas morning.

During a recent appearance on the “Bussin’ With The Boys” podcast with fellow NFL players Will Compton and Taylor Lewan, Kittle revealed two blocking assignments he doesn’t exactly live for.

“Khalil Mack’s tough,” Kittle said. “He’s pretty good. (Jadeveon) Clowney is pretty good too.”

Kittle and Mack faced off late in the 2018 season, during a low-scoring dogfight at Levi’s Stadium between the 49ers and Chicago Bears. Mack got three hits in on quarterback Nick Mullens, but didn’t end up with a sack among his five tackles.

[RELATED: Ranking top 49ers plays in franchise's storied history: No. 5-1]

Clowney was a difficult assignment for the Niners in both matchups last season, although Kittle was inactive for the Seattle Seahawks’ win on "Monday Night Football" in Week 10.

The current free agent had six tackles and five QB hits over those two games against San Francisco, not to mention scoring one of his two touchdowns on the season after scooping up a fumble.

Mack and Kittle could face off when the 49ers and Bears meet during the 2020 preseason on Aug. 29, but it remains to be seen where Clowney will wind up signing in free agency. 

Some have even postulated he could be a fit for the 49ers, if no team is willing to meet a reportedly exorbitant asking price.

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