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John Lynch: Arik Armstead’s return will provide 49ers a ‘big boost’

Jan 17, 2024 at 7:30 AM

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Arik Armstead has been back at practice since last week, working to recover from lingering foot and knee injuries. The San Francisco 49ers' defensive tackle has yet to appear in a game since December 3.

Armstead could have played in the team's regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Rams if needed. He wasn't needed, though. San Francisco had already secured the top seed in the NFC, allowing them to rest or limit key starters in that Week 18 matchup.

"He would've gone [against the Rams] if we needed that," head coach Kyle Shanahan said last week. "That's why we were really pumped that we were able to get that (the top seed), so he didn't have to go [in Week 18]."

The 49ers have been easing Armstead back, and they believe the extra week has benefited the veteran defensive lineman.

In a conversation with Bay Area radio station KNBR on Tuesday, general manager John Lynch was asked about the expectations surrounding Armstead. Will he play on Saturday when San Francisco hosts the Green Bay Packers in a Divisional Playoff game at Levi's Stadium?

"Yeah, it's looking like that," Lynch told Tom Tolbert and Adam Copeland. "He's had really good practices here in the last week before we went on our little weekend getaway. And then, coming back here today, he was out there in a limited fashion and did really well. So Arik, that would be a big boost for us. We're a better team when he's out there."

Armstead was having one of his better seasons before being sidelined. His 81.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus was the second-highest of his career (89.6 in 2019), and his 85.1 pass-rush grade was a career-high. Armstead's 42 pressures through the first 13 weeks of action ranked third on the team, with only Nick Bosa and Chase Young (with the 49ers and Commanders) owning more.

Linebacker Fred Warner sees Armstead's return as a significant benefit for the defense.

"Oh, yeah, it'd be really beneficial," Warner told reporters on Tuesday. "Arik's been a huge piece of what we do for a really long time here, especially in the run game, and this was, I think, his best year playing the run and the pass on the interior as he's played his entire career here. So it'd be a huge get for us."

The 49ers will hold two more practices before this weekend's clash with the Packers. We'll see if the team ramps up Armstead's workload as the game nears.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.

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