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Arik Armstead: 49ers can repeat as NFC West champs; Trey Lance has a bright future

May 25, 2023 at 8:50 AM--

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San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead joined NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Thursday to discuss the state of the team at the start of organized team activities (OTAs). Armstead is part of a defensive line that includes NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa and added former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave.

The question that had to be asked: Does San Francisco own the best defensive line in football?

"Well, on paper, I guess you could say that, but 'on paper' doesn't win any game," Armstead responded. "But we're excited about getting together and starting that journey of grinding, getting together, working. It's going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifice if we want to be the best. We have the guys to do it, and I think we're going to do it, but only time will tell once we get out there on that field."

The 49ers are the defending NFC West champions. The last time San Francisco won back-to-back division titles was in 2011 and 2012. Can the team do it again in 2023?

"I think we have the team to do it," Armstead shared. "Like I said, each year brings new challenges, new adversity, things you're going to have to go through as a team. We have the team to do it. It's just going to take us locking in, focusing, getting out there. It starts in OTAs and building the foundation and then training camp. But I think we'll be ready, and I think we have an opportunity this year to do something special."

Armstead was on and off the field last season, missing eight games due to nagging foot and ankle injuries. How does the 29-year-old defender feel four months removed from his last game?

"I'm feeling great," Armstead said. "OTAs have been going well, had some time to rest and recuperate, and I finished up the season pretty strong. I was feeling pretty good in our playoff run, and I'm looking forward to having a healthy offseason, and keep building on [what] we've been building here, and looking forward to a great year."

All eyes are on the 49ers' offseason quarterback situation. With Brock Purdy sidelined after surgery, Trey Lance and Sam Darnold will split the practice reps. Lance got all the first-team reps in the 49ers' first two practices. However, head coach Kyle Shanahan noted that will even out as OTAs progress.

Lance is coming off a season-ending ankle injury and has only four NFL starts under his belt. How has the third-year quarterback looked so far?

"Trey is a great player. He's still very young; I don't think people realize," Armstead said. "I've dealt with injuries early in my career and haven't had that opportunity to gain that experience. So I think Trey is an excellent player. He's going to continue to get better and better, and I think this offseason and this year will be huge for him to get that experience, and that's going to make him a better quarterback moving forward.

"So I'm excited about what Trey can do. I think he's an amazing player with a bright future."

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