Arik Armstead

Long text message shows Armstead took Wilks' challenge seriously

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49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has learned very quickly why Arik Armstead’s nickname is “Blueprint.” 

The veteran defensive lineman is a team captain for a reason, and Wilks learned firsthand why Armstead is a resource for many of his defensive teammates. 

“I talked to him the other day,” Wilks said on Thursday. “He wasn’t practicing and just was talking about a few things, [and I asked] ‘Are you ready?’ And I think in a subliminal way, I was joking with the coaching staff.

“He sent me a long detailed text about everything in the run game with Pittsburgh and I said, ‘Yeah, I think he’s ready.’ It was definitely detailing everything that they’re doing and what we need to do to make sure that we attack it.”

Armstead is known as a film junkie and clearly nothing has changed as he heads into his ninth NFL season. The defensive tackle is fully healthy after battling a foot injury that sidelined him for eight regular-season contests in 2022.

The three-time Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee has been a consistent contributor on the practice field that has helped Wilks smoothly acclimate to the 49ers' defense.

“Very impressed,” Wilks said of Armstead’s breakdown of the Steelers offense. “Definitely appreciate Arik. I think he’s had a great offseason. He is the ‘blueprint’ as we call him. He sets the standard with those guys up front.”

Armstead, who did not record a sack in 2022 for the first time since entering in the league, is set for a comeback performance this year. The addition of Javon Hargrave in the interior of the defensive line will draw attention away from the towering lineman, benefitting the defensive front.

Now they simply await the arrival of the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Nick Bosa, to ensure control of the line of scrimmage.

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