It didn’t take like for new 49ers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave to make his mark on their defense.
He tied for the team lead with five pressures. Second-year DE Drake Jackson also had five while also tallying 3.0 sacks. That’s as many sacks as Jackson had all of his rookie season. He benefitted greatly from the interior pressure Hargrave helped create and did well to clean up a couple sacks when Steelers QB Kenny Pickett bailed out of a collapsing pocket.
Armstead in particular spent a ton of time in the backfield and it’s not a huge surprise that a big game from him came in his first start alongside Hargrave. The 49ers former first-round pick has struggled to reach the heights he climbed to in 2019 alongside DT DeForest Buckner since Buckner was traded ahead of the 2020 season.
In that 2019 campaign Armstead put up a career-high 10.0 sacks. In three seasons since then he has just 9.5 sacks. While he didn’t tally one Sunday, he was a force in the middle of the offensive line and spent plenty of time collapsing the pocket and helping the defense sack Pickett five times and never letting him get comfortable.
While San Francisco’s offense and the respective impacts of their playmakers will get plenty of shine, Hargrave leading the way for the 49ers defense could be what they need to get over the hump and hoist their sixth Lombardi Trophy.