Arik Armstead turned a breakout season into a lucrative contract extension with the 49ers, but the defensive lineman isn't resting on his laurels after the big payoff. In fact, he's going about things as if its business as usual.
On Wednesday, Armstead took to Instagram to inform his followers of his main goal for the upcoming season. As it turns out, it's the same one he always has -- including last season when he recorded a career-high 10 sacks.
"My goal every year is to be the best run defender in the league first," Armstead wrote. "That's the hard part. You can have a dominant impact on the game without getting a sack. It may not come with glory, but for me that's what I take pride in. If I dominated the run game I can walk off the field happy. It's hard, but don't go into a game stressing to get a sack. Worry about being physically dominant and you will put your team in better situations on 3rd down and sacks will come."
One could argue that Armstead's breakout campaign was partially the result of playing alongside DeForest Buckner. With Buckner having been traded to the Indianapolis Colts last week, however, San Francisco has a big void to fill at the three-technique, and although that's not the position Armstead played last season, he would appear capable of doing so. While his pass-rush grade was slightly better than Buckner's last year, Armstead's run defense grade was significantly superior.
With the three-technique serving as the fulcrum of the defensive line's efforts to stop the run, it's a positive sign that Armstead is dedicating himself to being even more of a standout in that department, particularly if that's where he ends up playing. With Nick Bosa and Dee Ford applying pressure from the edges, the 49ers have the talent to afford to move Armstead further inside, if that's the direction they choose to go. That said, he accumulated double-digit sacks while being one of the best run-stuffers in the NFL from a combo position last season, so San Francisco might prefer to keep him where he has proven to be so effective.
Either way, with Buckner gone, the 49ers likely will need improvement across the board if the defensive line is going to be as dominant as it was last season. Even with a new, hefty contract, Armstead appears to be taking that to heart.
49ers' Arik Armstead has main goal of becoming NFL's top run defender originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area