The San Francisco 49ers might add some defensive line depth in the 2019 NFL Draft, but one guy they are counting on for 2019 is Arik Armstead. The 49ers picked up his fifth year option a year ago, and Kyle Shanahan told Bay Area media Wednesday that the team will not be releasing Armstead before his option becomes fully guaranteed on the first day of the new league year.
Armstead is due $9,046,000 in 2019. When the 49ers exercised his option last spring, it was only guaranteed for injury. It becomes guaranteed next month on March 13th, and while the 49ers could restructure his deal, Shanahan said they would not be doing that.
Armstead spent most of his time at the left and right edge spots this season, playing 327 out of 606 defensive snaps. He played 137 at left and right defensive end (not as far out as edge), and most of the remaining 142 snaps on the defensive interior. He showed significant progress particularly as the big end, and offers some versatility.
The most interesting part of Shanahan’s comments about Armstead came when he said, “Hopefully, the addition of changing our style a little on the D-line will help him. And I expect him to get better.” He added that the team will add more wide-9 techniques for their defensive ends, per Chris Biderman, which could help Armstead.
The team can still negotiate an extension with Armstead, but it seems like they are content letting this play out to see what kind of value he brings to the table. He played all 16 games for the first time since his rookie season, and if he can do it again and build on what was a really solid 2018 season, maybe the two sides work out an extension.