In his 49ers mailbag, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports addressed Arik Armstead‘s impending free agency. The seventeenth overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft struggled early in his career with injuries and consistency but emerged as an integral part of San Francisco’s defensive line over the past two seasons. Armstead has the versatility to play the edge of defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s 4-3 defense on early downs and then move inside on passing situations.
Armstead has started each of the 49ers last 35 games (playoffs included) and set career-marks this season in sacks (10.0), tackles for loss (11), quarterback hits (18), and tackles (54) as a part of the vaunted Niners defensive front. Now, set for unrestricted free agency, Maiocco downplays the chances San Francisco franchise tags the defensive lineman to trade him. He believes if the team has the cap space to apply the tag, they’ll work out an extension.
Here’s some more rumors out of Santa Clara:
- Matt Barrows and David Lombardi of The Athletic continued their “State of the 49ers” series, this time looking at the team’s running backs. While no halfback amassed 1,000 yards on the season, the team’s depth at the position was obvious to anyone following the team. Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, and Raheem Mostert all played like the team’s number one back at different points in the season. They place a primary focus on the future of Jerrick McKinnon-who missed the past two seasons with injuries-with the team. If he returns on a team-friendly contract, San Francisco may be comfortable letting Tevin Coleman pursue opportunities elsewhere.
- Following their Super Bowl defeat, the 49ers now face a series of difficult salary-cap decisions. Patrick Holloway of Niners Nation speculates the team could attach a draft pick to defensive lineman Solomon Thomas to save more than $4MM in cap space. Since Thomas was selected with the third overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, his entire contract is guaranteed and the Niners cannot gain any cap relief from releasing him. However, if he were traded, his dead cap hit would be cut in half, saving the team half of his nearly $9MM cap hit.