Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Dee Ford on Arik Armstead: ‘People may overlook him, but players don’t’

Jan 30, 2020 at 10:16 AM--

Many fans questioned whether or not defensive lineman Arik Armstead would return to the San Francisco 49ers this season. The general feeling was that Armstead, a former first-round pick, had underachieved in his four NFL seasons.

The 49ers picked up Armstead's fifth-year option, which shocked a lot of fans. The defender was coming off his best season, which included just three sacks in 16 starts and brought his career total up to nine.

Those weren't numbers someone typically envisions when you say "first-round pick." One person saw the potential in Armstead, though.

Upon joining the 49ers last January, defensive line coach Kris Kocurek immediately reached out to Armstead — while the defender was on vacation — introducing himself and then told the player to pick up his iPad. The two started going through plays, and the coach outlined how he planned to make Armstead more of a disruptive force.

It worked.

Armstead got to apposing quarterbacks 12 times this season, including twice in the playoffs. For the 49ers, he's been worth every penny of that $9 million one-year option.

Who knows if Armstead will be with San Francisco next season? For now, he is focused on Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs.

"It's definitely a big opportunity for all of us," Armstead said on Wednesday. "Legends are only made if you win the game. Nobody remembers the loser, so that's the main goal, is to not become individually legendary, but for all of us to become legendary by becoming Super Bowl champions and being remembered forever."

Despite his impressive numbers this season, Armstead is still overlooked. Take Wednesday, for example. Players, including Armstead, were set up in a conference room at the team's downtown Miami hotel to speak with reporters. A massive crowd with phones, video cameras, and other recording devices surrounded rookie defensive end Nick Bosa.

Armstead's crowd was a bit more subdued.

Dee Ford has only spent one season with Armstead but already holds a great deal of respect for his teammate's on-field contributions. Ford knows that not everyone overlooks the 6-foot-7 defender.

"People may overlook him, but players don't," Ford said. "He shows up, and you best believe teams are accounting for 91. He might not get all the hype, and all that, but Arik is a force to be reckoned with on first down, second down, and third down.

"He's very relentless. He's strong. He's agile. Whatever you need him to do, he can do, which is unique at that size."

His break-out season paired with a trip to the Super Bowl has given Armstead some increased recognition. He spoke of that on Wednesday.

"Just all part of God's plan," Armstead said. "I've always remained positive and believed in myself throughout whatever was going on. And I believe that God has a plan for my life and a reason for everything.

"Dealing with injuries, and those type of things in the past, being on that side and not playing, and all that, has made this season that much sweeter."

Armstead also holds a great deal of respect for Ford, too, who joined the 49ers via a trade with the Chiefs last March.

"Dee has came in, he's been a leader," Armstead said. "Even though it's only year six, he's one of the oldest players on our front, and he has a lot of experience winning games and playing in playoffs.

"Also, he's extremely talented. He brings an element to our team where people have to focus on him, and it opens it up for all of us out there."

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