Armstead bright spot in 49ers' blowout loss


SANTA CLARA – After enjoying the best individual game of his young career, 49ers rookie defensive lineman Arik Armstead sought out the player to whom he has been most-often compared.

Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell, who stands 6 foot 8, has played at a Pro Bowl level for several seasons. Last year was the first time he was honored with a trip to the Pro Bowl.

At 6-7, Armstead has been compared to Campbell. Even Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said that comparison filled the team’s draft room before the 49ers selected Armstead with the No. 17 overall pick.

Armstead, who had never before met Campbell, approached him after the 49ers’ 47-7 loss on Sunday.

“After the game, I introduced myself to him and he said, ‘Oh, so you must be that guy that everyone’s talking about.’ I thought that was pretty funny,” Armstead said. “He’s an excellent player, a guy I’ve been studying and looking up to for a while.”

[MAIOCCO: 49ers endure worst back-to-back losses in 35 years]

Armstead, considered a long-term project at the time of his selection, was about the only bright spot for the 49ers on Sunday.

He played just 18 snaps (24 percent of the 49ers’ defensive plays) and recorded the team’s only sack of the day – not to mention the only time Carson Palmer has been sacked through the first three games of the season.

In the third quarter, Armstead got push against left tackle Jared Veldheer. NaVorro Bowman, blitzing from the opposite side, forced Palmer to step up. Armstead shed Veldheer to drop Palmer for a 4-yard sack. He nearly had another sack working from the other side a short time later.

“(I'm) just getting more and more comfortable,” Armstead said. “The more and more I play, I’ll get more comfortable and settled in and able to do my job and try to help my team win.”

Armstead had not rushed from the right side with the 49ers, but last week they used him there when he did work with the scout team against the 49ers’ first-team offense. Armstead played both sides in Sunday’s game as part of the team’s sub packages in passing situations.

On a defensive line that experienced difficulty getting consistent pressure on Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Palmer, Armstead appears to have earned the right to get more playing time. Armstead said he is focused on taking care of his role as part of the solution to cure the 49ers’ problems in back-to-back blowout losses.

“There’s no blaming people or anything like that,” he said. “We’re all controlling what we can control, and that’s going out and working hard and trying to get better every day.”

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