Each offseason, we like to run a series of articles here on Niners Nation called "90-in-90." In the post, we take a look at 90 players (or so) on the San Francisco 49ers' 90-man roster throughout the offseason and what we can expect of them the following year. We take a look at their expected impact, whether or not they'll make the roster and things of that nature. For rookies, we're going back and looking at how we did with those posts.
We'll start at the top with the team's first round pick, defensive lineman Arik Armstead. The 49ers acquired the Oregon product after trading down with the San Diego Chargers. The 49ers acquired a 2015 fourth round pick (Blake Bell) and a 2016 fifth round pick to move down the two spots. Armstead was a guy a lot of mock drafts had going to the 49ers, and it was one of the rare instances where the mid-first round mocks were correct in many instances.
When I wrote the 90-in-90 article shortly before the start of training camp, I said it was tough to project what we might expect given Armstead's absence from the offseason workout program (due to Oregon's quarter system). Here is what I had to say about best and worst case scenarios for Armstead:
The worst case sees him inactive most of the season, while the best case is a tough one to figure. I don't think moving right into the starting lineup is a realistic possibility as a rookie, but I suppose he could surprise us. And of course, injuries are always a potential factor.
If I had to guess, I would see him being inactive at least half the season. My primary concern is learning the playbook after missing the entire offseason workout program. I hope for a surprise, but I am keeping expectations fairly low for now.
I set the inactive total at 8.5. Some folks, including myself, thought he would be inactive much of the season. I was wrong, as Armstead was active all 16 games, and was formally listed as a starter for Week 17. His snap count fluctuated in the teens and occasionally into the low 20s early on. He started to get more work later in the season, capped by the start in the season finale.
He showed some serious ability at times, with Pro Football Focus rating him highly in their pass rush efficiency metric. This is particularly interesting because coming out of college he was viewed as strong against the run but raw in the pass rush.
This certainly bodes well heading into year two. Glenn Dorsey's recovery from a torn ACL combined with Ian Williams' potential departure in free agency could create some shuffling along the defensive line. Even if Williams returns, there will be plenty of opportunities for Armstead to further develop his repertoire.
Barring injury, Armstead should be active all 16 games again this season. I don't think the question is necessarily how many he starts, but instead considering an over/under on snaps or percentage of snaps. He averaged 22 snaps per game last season, good for 32.9 percent of total snaps. For comparison's sake, Quinton Dial averaged 38 for 56.3 percent, and Ian Williams averaged 39 for 57.8 percent. On the other side, Tony Jerod-Eddie averaged 17 snaps for 25.5 percent. Mike Purcell was inactive the first eight games. Over the final eight games, he ended up playing 36 snaps a game. Glenn Dorsey played 35.3 snaps per game before going on injured reserve.
I would hope that Armstead can crack 30 snaps per game next season, but it will depend on how they rotate along the line. Purcell would appear to be a potentially prominent option in the rotation next year, but the change in coaching staff obviously means even that is not exactly settled.