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Armstead: I feel like I’m hitting my stride and just getting started.

Armstead met with the media Wednesday afternoon

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead joined the local media to discuss DeForest Buckner, Javon Kinlaw, and how his life has been affected by COVID-19.

On signing a deal, and then finding out about Buckner

It was an interesting day, to say the least. Signing back with the Niners is definitely what I wanted to do. Learning about DeFo being traded was a shock to me. I had just signed; then, I saw that on the media, so I called DeFo, and we talked about it. Everything happens for a reason. It’s weird not being on the same team anymore or playing alongside each other. He definitely deserved that contract and is an amazing player. Both huge opportunities for us and definitely wish we were still playing together, but that’s beyond our control.

What are you guys missing out on not being able to be in person together?

Missing out on a lot, for sure. With the offseason program, I miss being around our coaches, doing football drills, and starting that journey together. Definitely missing that, but times are what they are, so you have to adjust and do your best with these virtual meetings and try to build some continuity on that end and refresh our brains and our assignments in the playbooks. Also, try and work on some of the things we would be working on physically at this time the best way we can.

What are the differences between DeForest and Javon Kinlaw, and what can Kinlaw add?

Can’t really compare players in that sense, even though they play a similar position. Players are unique in their own right. Javon is going to have his own career. Looking at him, he’s extremely talented, athletic, strong; I think he’s going to add a lot to our team. I’m excited for all of us to get back together, to start that journey, to help bring him along and up to speed, be a leader and guide him through his career, especially in these early stages.

Is there a sense of filling the leadership void DeFo left behind?

Losing DeFo, he’s an irreplaceable player, leader, and staple of our organization. There’s definitely going to be a void there that not just one person will be able to fill. It’s going to be a team effort. I think we’re up for it. We have a great group of guys, and we have a great team. We weren’t just reliant on three guys when we needed a play or leadership. Moving forward, I expect me and a whole host of my teammates to step up and fill that void.

What can you and others do to help Javon in those virtual meeting rooms?

Right now, the rookies aren’t allowed to be with the rest of the group, so they’re meeting individually. We can lead by example. We’ve been watching a lot of film from last year, so he’ll be able to learn a lot off that. The standard and examples of how we want to play. So he can start going through that thought process of what it’s supposed to look like and what we can get better at.

On where Armstead made strides and can improve

I became an overall better player. I got better in every facet—still, a lot to improve on. I want to play faster. I want to work on my get off. I want to continue to work on my technique and hone in on my skills. You can get better and better every year. I feel like I’m hitting my stride and just getting started.