49ers' Arik Armstead points to multiple reasons for breakout season

Matt Maiocco

SANTA CLARA – 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead is having his breakout NFL season this year for a lot of different reasons.

He is more than willing to share all the elements he believes have led to his best season. He gives a lot of credit to those who have supported him throughout his five-year professional career – in good times and bad.

Armstead has resisted the temptation to look ahead and think about his future. He has remained in the moment and focused on what's in front of him – and not his promising future as one of the top players scheduled to enter free agency in the spring.

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"This is the NFL. It's week-to-week, and playing against the Baltimore Ravens, we have a great team coming," Armstead said. "If you don't have your mind straight and you're looking past people, or forward to things and you're not present and in the moment and playing as hard as you can, playing with physicality, you can literally get hurt or bad things can happen.

"I'm focused on helping this team win games right now, whatever that role is, playing to the best of my ability."

Armstead leads the 49ers with 10 sacks -- each punctuated with his belly-rubbing celebration -- while also being a force against the run. His play at defensive end on base downs and as an inside pass rusher has been a big reason the 49ers' defense has led the way to the team's 10-1 record.

When asked about the reasons for him playing his best football, Armstead said, "I attribute the good year that I'm having to a lot of things."

He listed the factors that he believes have contributed to his best season:

--"My work ethic and fighting through adversity in my career to make me the player I am today," he said.

Armstead bounced around from position-to-position on the team's defensive line with different defensive schemes nearly every season since coming to the 49ers as a first-round draft pick in 2015. He missed 18 games due to injuries in 2016 and '17.

--Armstead credited the work he's done with his personal trainer, Mark Hall.

--He is grateful for the support of his family, close friends and fiancé.

"They believed in me and they've kept me pushing through adversity," he said.

--Armstead fits in well with a compatible group of teammates, both along the defensive line and elsewhere on the defense.

"I'm surrounded by great players who are awesome to play with and have a lot of fun with," he said. "We're going out there and trying to attack together and get wins. And playing for each other."

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--Armstead credits the 49ers' coaching staff for maximizing his abilities, especially 49ers first-year defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, whose wide-nine alignment fits Armstead's skillset.

"Coach Kocurek believing in me and believing in my ability," he said. "When I first met him, he told me that he believes in me and this year is going to be a special year for me and the team."

Armstead registered nine sacks in his first 46 NFL games. Through 11 games this season, he has already exceeded that number. But he is quick to point out he has not done it alone.

"A lot of that goes into something like this," he said.

49ers' Arik Armstead points to multiple reasons for breakout season originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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