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.
It was difficult to project what kind of impact defensive lineman Arik Armstead might have as a rookie. Most considered him a raw prospect, and Jim Tomsula liked his veteran players regardless of their talent ceiling. He wasn’t expected to play much, and he didn’t.
He was active for all 16 games though, and earned one start in the season finale. He showed some nice stuff in the pass-rushing department, which was nice to see given that was the area he was expected to struggle with at the next level. Most imagined that Armstead would need to work on his arsenal of pass rushing moves, and that he’d be much more effective in stopping the run as a rookie.
The inverse was true, with Armstead’s little playing time ultimately leading to plenty of quarterback pressure. He wasn’t deficient when it came to stopping the run, but he didn’t stand out in that category, either.
What we saw was simple: a raw player who looked better than expected in limited time. The 49ers have a strong defensive line, with Armstead hoping to combine with rookie DeForest Buckner, a former teammate at Oregon, alongside some other strong candidates including Ian Williams, Glenn Dorsey and Quinton Dial.
Going forward, I think things are looking up. There’s not a whole lot else to say about Armstead’s performance as a rookie. It was good, which is more than most of us even hoped for given how raw he was considered out of college.
Experience: 2nd Season
Weight: 292 lbs
Armstead is playing on a rookie contract and has a cap hit of just over $2.2 million next season. As a first-round pick, he’s making more than most rookies obviously, but it’s still a manageable contract.
Why he might improve
When the 49ers drafted Armstead, he was 300 pounds of raw potential. That potential will either pay off with actual skill and ability at the next level or it will fade and become an afterthought. But he was taken in the first round, and the potential was as high as any defensive lineman to come out in recent years. If he doesn’t break out this season, he’s not done by any stretch of the imagination, but immediate and drastic improvement isn’t just possible, it should be expected.
Why he might regress
Armstead was raw. The most raw. But he saw the field a little bit last season, and he looked fine. He most survived on his athleticism and strength as a young gun in the league, but had a couple sacks and 19 combined tackles in the games he played. If Armstead hits what would essentially still be a rookie wall, he wouldn’t be the first or even the hundredth example of a player to do so. But honestly, it would be a big shock if Armstead actually regressed.
Odds of making the roster
Kelly has grand, grand dreams of a dominant defensive front with two of his former Oregon starters causing havoc and disarray in the trenches. Armstead was a first-round pick and even if he’s terrible next season, he’s got a spot on the roster. He’ll get every opportunity to become the player the 49ers want him to be.