Arik Armstead thinks the NFL has changed ‘for the better’ heading into Year 9

Jul 27, 2023, 9:00 AM | Updated: 10:18 am

Arik Armstead #91 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up prior to a game against the Las Vegas Raiders...

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 01: Arik Armstead #91 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up prior to a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

A lot has changed since Arik Armstead joined the NFL in 2015, including how the league begins training camp each season.

The San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman has done much reflecting heading into his ninth NFL season. Some of those thoughts include how the league has evolved further safety measures to acclimate athletes back into the grind of the regular season. While Armstead prefers to get his hands dirty on the field at all times, he’s quite pleased with the NFL’s new willingness to take it easy on players for the first few days.

“The league has changed a little bit since I’ve been here,” Arik Armstead told the media Wednesday. “But I think it’s changed for the better, you know, definitely used to be a little rougher, especially the first day of training camp, I remember it being a little rougher than today was. But I think it’s for the [betterment] of the players and the longevity of our season.

The Sacramento native, 29, has also spent time reflecting on his journey with the 49ers. With the departure of safety Jimmie Ward, the Pleasant Grove High School alum is now the team’s longest-tenured member, a factoid that means a lot to him. And with a deal running through the 2024 season, 10 years with the same club is something he’s striving for.


“Being in one place for 10 years, I think is hard to do,” Armstead said. “And not a lot of people do it for a number of reasons. Obviously, things have to work out from a football standpoint and a whole bunch of other scenarios. So yeah, if I was able to achieve that, it would definitely be a good thing that a lot of guys aren’t able to do.”

But the time for daydreaming will have to wait, as a new league year is on the horizon.

The 49ers have had consecutive seasons of heartbreak endings, losing back-to-back NFC Championship games. For some, it can be hard to turn the page after a disappointing ending. For others, like Arik Armstead, it takes about three weeks. Because at the end of the day, San Francisco is still in a premier spot to have repeated success heading into 2024.

“I would say there’s about six to eight teams that have a better chance than others, that have a legit chance [to win the Super Bowl]. And I think we’re definitely one of those teams,” Armstead said. “We have a great group of talent, we have a great culture, great coaching. So we definitely have the opportunity, and that’s all you can ask for at the beginning of the season.”

In order to make that final playoff push though, they’ll need their star pass rusher Nick Bosa.

While the reigning Defensive Player of the Year waits for a new contract extension to be finalized, the 49ers have to push through without him in the mix. That hasn’t stopped the players from reaching out to Nick Bosa though, including Armstead, regularly talking to him about the season ahead.

“Nick always keeps in contact with his guys,” the Armstead said. “So we’ve been in contact. He’s been great. He’s always doing good, training, I’m sure.”

In the meantime, the Red & Gold will focus on catching new defensive tackle Javon Hargrave up to speed. The veteran DL has a similar demeanor to the rest of the group, cool and calculated. But don’t let that fool you, each & every one of these maulers will do damage come the regular season.

“I think our stir-up presence is how we play. I don’t think guys want to mess with us,” Armstead stated bluntly.

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