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49ers rookie Arik Armstead discussed effort questions

There have been plenty of critiques about the San Francisco 49ers first round pick. He addressed one that is a little more nebulous.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The scouting report on Arik Armstead has focused on his raw skills, and generally struggles to generate much in the pass rush. However, one flag that some have raised has related to his effort play-in and play-out. Eric Branch pointed to a few such reports in a recent interview with Armstead.

The San Francisco 49ers rookie discussed the effort issue, and he went into some details about his role in the Oregon defense. He talked about the role he filled:

"Football-wise, it comes from people not noticing the little things," Armstead said of the questions about his effort. "Me getting double-teamed or triple-teamed on certain plays. But those things help my team wins games. I'll sacrifice stats and things like that if I'm doing what my coaches want me to do. And if we're winning doing that, I'm happy about it. I'll deal with critics for that."

The 3-4 defense does not exactly open the door to superstar players. Justin Smith was a beast in that defense, but you could argue he was more of an outlier. Ray McDonald did great things at times in the 49ers 3-4 defense, but he did fly under the radar to those outside of the 49ers fan base.

While it would be great to see Armstead develop into a Justin Smith type player, that is simply asking too much of any player. There is a decent chance Smith does not end up in the Hall of Fame, but he will go down as one of the best defensive linemen in 49ers history. However, if the 49ers get McDonald peak level production on the field from Armstead for a substantial period of time, that could make for a perfectly solid first round pick.

As with most players who get dogged for effort or some other negative, Armstead is saying the right things about motivation. He said it adds fuel to the fire, but is not his main motivation heading into the NFL. We'll have to wait and see what the coming year brings. I don't expect final conclusions in 2015, but he can at least show he is moving in the right direction.