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Arik Armstead might not play final two preseason games

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The 49ers are building their defensive line around two tall products out of Oregon. The question is how much more we’ll see of either of them in the preseason.

We have discussed extensively the absence of Colin Kaepernick through the San Francisco 49ers first two preseason games, but he is not the only notable absence. Defensive tackle Arik Armstead suffered a shoulder injury a couple weeks back, and has not played in either preseason game thus far.

On Wednesday, head coach Chip Kelly was asked about the importance of preseason snaps given the amount of team drills Armstead has missed:

“They’re all valuable, but you also want to make sure that your guys that are going to be available in the first game are available in the first game. So, you know, there’s that fine line that you walk between he’s got to get reps, where if the reps are going to set him back then does he need to get those reps? The bottom line is that we need to put the best 46 out there when we play [Los Angeles]. So, we’ll always err on the side of caution from that standpoint because you do want to win every preseason game. You want to be successful in everything you do, but you really don’t get a whole heck of a lot if, you know, hey, we were 4-0 in preseason and killed everybody but when we go to play our first game, we’re not playing with the top 46 because six or seven of them are sitting on the sidelines.”

This doesn’t mean Armstead won’t play, but it seems like a good hint that he might not play in the games. As with every injury, his work the rest of this week and into next week will be something the trainers consider. However, with the final preseason game next Thursday, if he does not play on Friday, the odds of him playing the following Thursday would seem to go down.

Kelly was also asked about DeForest Buckner’s status. The rookie defensive tackle is dealing with a soft tissue injury in his lower leg. Trent Baalke did not think it is serious, and Kelly’s comments suggest as much:

“Again, we’ll evaluate everybody on Friday after Ferg gives us a heads in where we are with the whole thing. So, can’t predict from now until then. He’s practiced full the last two days, so we’re excited to see where he is. We’ll do the same thing every Friday that we normally do on game day to make sure we’ve got the right rotations going on.”

My guess is we see him on Friday, but again, we’re left to wait and see who the team announces will not play shortly before the game.