Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner have been teammates seven of the last eight years. They worked together along the University of Oregon defensive line and reunited after a year apart on the 49ers front.
Despite the fact both were due big-money contract extensions this offseason after helping the 49ers advance the Super Bowl, parting ways was not a serious consideration.
"I wouldn't say that I personally thought about that as a possibility," Armstead said Wednesday on a video conference with local reporters. "I figured there would be a way for us to continue playing together. That's not how it happened."
Armstead signed a five-year, $85 million contract with $45.85 million guaranteed on the morning of March 16. Buckner was traded to Indianapolis later that afternoon.
"It was an interesting day to say the least," Armstead said. "There was a lot of excitement, of course, after signing back with the 49ers. That's definitely what I wanted to do. Learning about ‘DeFo' being traded was a shock to me, trying to figure out how that happened and what went on."
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The Elk Grove native had just signed his new deal when the Buckner trade hit social media, and he quickly went on a mission to find out what happened and why. He talked to Buckner shortly after and while he was disappointed a great friend and teammate was leaving town, Armstead was happy to hear a massive extension worth an average of $19.2 million per season was coming for Buckner from the Colts.
"It's certainly weird not being on the same team, not being right beside each other but we're both super blessed," Armstead said. "He's definitely deserving of that contract. He's an amazing player and he's going to do amazing things up there in Indianapolis. Those were two huge opportunities for us. I definitely wish we were still playing together but it's beyond our control."
Armstead is thrilled to remain with the 49ers following a career year where he had 10 sacks, 18 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles while being acknowledged among the NFL's best run defenders.
"There's going to be a void there that's going to be tough to fill," Armstead said. "It's going to be a team effort, especially within our defensive line. We're all going to have to pick it up. I think we're up for it. We have a great group of guys and we have a great team. I don't think we were reliant on just three guys throughout the year. When we needed leadership, it was a group effort.
"Guys across the roster stepped up at different times. I think we're built the right way to adjust to something like this the right way. Moving forward I expect me and a whole host of my teammates to step into leadership roles while making big plays on the field."
How 49ers' Arik Armstead has been coping with DeForest Buckner trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area