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49ers roster breakdowns, 90-in-90: ILB Ray-Ray Armstrong

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Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). We move on to inside linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong.

Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but you get the idea.

The San Francisco 49ers have a three-way race for the inside linebacker spot next to NaVorro Bowman, according to defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil. Michael Wilhoite and Gerald Hodges were the expected names in the answer, but O'Neil surprised us a bit when he said Ray-Ray Armstrong was also in the mix. Wilhoite started last season next to NaVorro Bowman. A high ankle sprain cost him the last month of the season, and Gerald Hodges took over the final four games.

The 49ers claimed Armstrong off waivers last season on November 25. Armstrong entered the league in 2013 as an undrafted free agent with the St. Louis Rams. He played in 16 games in 2013, and four games in 2014. He was waived in early October 2014, and the Oakland Raiders claimed him. He played in 11 games to close out 2014, and then ten games to start 2015. The Raiders then waived him, and the 49ers claimed him. In ten games with the Raiders, Armstrong played 208 defensive snaps and 116 special teams snaps. In five games with the 49ers, Armstrong played 103 special teams snaps, and no defensive snaps.

Basic info

Age: 25

Experience: 3 accrued seasons

Height: 6'3

Weight: 220 lbs

Contract Status

He signed a one-year contract this offseason as a restricted free agent. His base salary is $675,000, and he has a Week 1 roster bonus of $25,000, creating a $700,000 cap hit.

Why he might improve

He has a full offseason learning the 49ers defense. He was in the Raiders coaching staff dog house (pun intended), and only got a month with the since departed Clancy Pendergast and rest of the 49ers coaching staff. He did not get any defensive snaps even after Michael Wilhoite was hurt, but again, this is a new coaching staff. DC Jim O'Neil and ILB coach Joe Bowden get a full offseason to assess what he can do. He is only in his fourth season, and the primary concern has been a lack of discipline. Any improvement would seemingly come from maturing both on and off the field.

Why he might regress

When the 49ers signed him, Silver & Black Pride blogger Levi Damien had this to say about Armstrong:

He lacks discipline. That's his main problem. It was the reason the Rams released him last season as well. He had stupid penalties, overruns plays, and takes bad angles. While with the Rams he was a special teams guy primarily. The Raiders, with some desperate needs at linebacker, ended up not only playing him, but giving him a few starts. The coaching staff talked him up this offseason because he was to replace the injured Sio Moore and ultimately the traded Sio Moore. He was also going to fill in until Benson Mayowa returned from his knee injury early this season. But then the Raiders signed Aldon Smith and decided to go with more 3-4 sets. Armstrong still saw the field some but was a major liability. Then there was the whole 'barking at a police dog' thing in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago that had him potentially looking at felony charges. Last week he had clearly fallen out out favor and didn't see a snap on defense. The team decided to give those snaps to rookie Ben Heeney. The team should also be getting rookie linebacker Neiron Ball back soon which essentially would renderArmstrong the odd man out.

That is not the most inspiring of descriptions. And it is possible he will be best suited for special teams work, and not much more. It will be interesting to see how he rotates with Michael Wilhoite and Gerald Hodges during the preseason.

Odds of making the roster

This is a tough one to figure out. One the one hand, the team claimed him off waivers, rather than waiting for him to hit free agency. Additionally, they have him competing for starting work next to NaVorro Bowman. On the other hand, he hasn't exactly wow'd in his previous two stops. There are not a lot of guys who are competing for a starting job and just as easily could be released at the end of training camp. If Hodges and Wilhoite at the top of the ILB depth chart, Armstrong might just be competing with Nick Bellore and Shayne Skov for one or two roster spots. I am leaning him not making the roster, but I could see him having a slight edge over Skov.