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Arik Armstead talks Steve Wilks, Nick Bosa, Javon Hargrave, and 49ers’ QB situation

May 30, 2023 at 1:35 PM--

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Arik Armstead is looking forward to the upcoming season. There is a lot to look forward to. His San Francisco 49ers have been to the NFC Championship Game three times over the past four seasons. They once again have a competitive roster and look to make another run at a Super Bowl championship.

Armstead joined Adam Schefter on the ESPN insider's podcast, discussing several 49ers-related topics.

New defensive coordinator Steve Wilks

Steve Wilks replaces DeMeco Ryans as defensive coordinator. Armstead had nothing but praise for his former coordinator, who left to be the Houston Texans' head coach, but looks forward to working with Wilks.

Wilks isn't expected to make any drastic changes in his first season helming the 49ers defense. After all, San Francisco owned the top-ranked defense in the NFL last season.

"Coach Wilks has been amazing thus far," Armstead said. "We aren't changing much, but I think Coach Wilks brings a different element. He has been more of a secondary focus, back-end coach throughout his career. So from a back-end perspective, communication, and how we are covering guys in the back end, I think he's going to help us tremendously.

"And he's a great human being. He's a great leader as well. He communicates effectively, clear, you know what you're going to get out of him. And I've had a few friends that played for him before I even met Coach Wilks. They text me like, 'Man, you're going to love him.' He's a great coach."

Nick Bosa's dominance

Armstead is part of a defensive front that includes the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Nick Bosa. The pass-rushing phenom terrorizes opposing quarterbacks, making Armstead's job significantly easier.

Bosa arrived at the 49ers four years after Armstead. Early on, Armstead served as a mentor for the young defensive end. Still, there have been things that Bosa has taught Armstead during their four seasons together.

"I think the thing about Nick is a lot of things that people don't see on game day," Armstead shared. "His approach, his preparation, his routine, his lifting program, his nutrition. He really locks in and sets himself up for success to go out there and cut it loose and just play.

"He's a dominant player, but a lot of his dominance really comes from what he does when he's not on the field and how he prepares himself to go out there and be that player. So getting a chance to be around him for these years and watch his career grow, and us play together, and us win together, and playing alongside of him has been amazing."

Armstead admits that he's implemented some of Bosa's training regimen into his own. However, one thing he hasn't been able to adhere to is Bosa's strict diet. Thankfully, he doesn't feel the need.

"I can't 100 percent replicate his diet and his nutrition because I play defensive tackle, and if I did, I would be a little too lean," Armstead said. "So I got to get a little more extra carbs than he does. But definitely taking some things from him. He's a smart guy. He knows how to take care of himself and prepare, and he's a good teammate too."

Adding Javon Hargrave

The 49ers made an unexpected splash in free agency, acquiring defensive tackle Javon Hargrave from the Philadelphia Eagles. Armstead is excited to see what adding Hargrave to the mix does for last year's top-ranked defense.

"I hadn't necessarily met him before signing with us, but I've seen his career, I've seen him on tape, I've seen him on film, and he's one hell of a player," Armstead said. "He's a dominant defensive tackle in this league, and adding him to our already good group of players is just going to be amazing.

"We've always made an investment up front here with the Niners, and we like to put the game on our shoulders. And when you want to win a Super Bowl, you better be able to rush four and get home, especially when you're playing against such great quarterbacks late in the season; you're going to need more guys in coverage. And so I'm really excited about that."

The QB situation

The biggest 49ers offseason storyline has been the uncertain quarterback situation, a topic that comes up during most player interviews. How does Armstead see the situation unfolding?

"I see a competition this offseason," Armstead said. "Obviously, injuries come into play where guys are kind of at different levels. You don't know the timing of that and everyone's health, but I think we're in a great situation in terms of having a talented quarterback room, and guys are going to be hungry and competing. I can't wait to see it.

"I have faith in everyone in that room. I feel like we've shown what type of team that we can be [for] a lot of years now. We've been in the mix, competing at the highest level, so I'm excited. I think we have a talented room. It's going to be competitive. They're going to get after it, and they're all going to be trying to prove themselves."

Brock Purdy would have entered this offseason as the undisputed starter had he been healthy. The second-year quarterback underwent surgery in March to repair a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow. He is expected to miss most or all of the offseason.

The 49ers made Purdy the last overall pick in last year's draft, and his impressive performance after taking over for injured quarterbacks Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo captivated the NFL world.

When did Armstead realize Purdy was better than most expected from the last overall draft pick?

"There was a play in the Minnesota preseason game that he did," Armstead shared. "I was like, 'Yo, that was kind of different.' He like, rolled out to the right. It was pressure coming. He kind of gave a guy like a dead leg, spun back out to his left, and delivered a pass down the field. I was like, 'Oh, I haven't really seen that before.' And he could just play free moxie. You could tell he's like a gunslinger, can play backyard football, just a ball player, really.

"But in terms of [going from] Mr. Irrelevant to Mr. Relevant, as soon as he came in the game when Jimmy went down, and didn't look phased, carried himself well, and we end up winning the game. And the last three of the draft sometimes never even makes it [to] playing in a game on the NFL field."

Armstead added, "You could just tell sometimes how people carry themselves, how they play the game, just something about them. They're just gamers. And that's definitely what Brock is. He's definitely a gamer. And you could tell that he played in a lot of big-time games, too, in college. That experience of playing in those games really helps."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Armstead below. It begins at about the 14:30 mark.


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