The San Francisco 49ers announced on Monday that they have signed Ray-Ray Armstrong to a two-year extension. Armstrong was a free agent after this season.
The 49ers originally claimed Armstrong off waivers from the Oakland Raiders on November 25, 2015. He appeared in five games last season in a special teams role. He opened this season as the starting inside linebacker next to NaVorro Bowman. He injured his chest in Week 2 and was placed on injured reserve. Bowman followed him to IR after Week 4.
The 49ers defense had a lot of questions heading into the season, but Armstrong and Bowman could have provided some decent help behind the defensive front. I don’t know that the defense would have been significantly better, but I don’t think they would have set the franchise rushing yards allowed record quite so quickly.
Bowman’s rehab seems to be going pretty well, as he is now back to traveling with the team and not showing a significant limp anymore. However, even if he does return to action at the start of the 2017 season, ILB remains an area of need. Armstrong has some upside, but there were issues of play discipline when he was with the Raiders. A full-season look next to Bowman would have told us a lot more. I suspect the 49ers will still be plenty looking for depth at the position with Michael Wilhoite and Gerald Hodges both hitting free agency after the season.