The 49ers are easing defensive lineman Arik Armstead back into the lineup after he missed the preseason because of a shoulder injury. But that will change as soon as Armstead feels he’s back to full strength.
“Eventually when he feels good and ready to roll, he’s a guy who we’d like to only bring off the field when needs to grab a quick water break and then get him back out there,” defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said Wednesday. “Because he’s such a difference maker.”
Armstead injured his shoulder in practice Aug. 7. He was listed as questionable for Monday night’s game against the Los Angeles Rams and was limited in Wednesday’s practice. The starting defensive line Monday was Quinton Dial, Mike Purcell and rookie DeForest Buckner.
Armstead, however, played 35 snaps, second most by a 49ers defensive lineman. He began the game as a nickel pass rusher, helped forced a sack in the first quarter and collected a sack in the fourth quarter. Pro Football Focus credited him with five quarterback pressures.
“He had some flash plays for us on Monday night,” O’Neil said. “So he’s a guy we need to continue to bring along.”
Buckner also had a strong game in his first NFL regular-season start, playing 51 snaps and finishing with five quarterback pressures.
“I thought he had a really good first game,” O’Neil said. “He was solid, very disruptive in the run game.”
Why Rivera stands – Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera not only stands during the national anthem, he said, “I stand a little taller, I stand a little straighter, I’ve got my hand on my heart. I honor the flag and the United States of America.”
Rivera noted he grew up on a military base, Fort Ord near Monterey, and donates money and time to the United Service Organizations and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
“I think every individual has the freedom and rights to do what they want, and that’s the beauty of it,” Rivera said. “Because this is America, and that’s what the men and women of the Armed Forces fought for, and in some cases they committed the ultimate sacrifice for.”
Et cetera – Offensive lineman Anthony Davis and coach Chip Kelly are using the same script as far as why Davis missed Saturday’s practice, then switched from starting guard to backup tackle. Like Kelly, Davis blamed the abrupt change on “miscommunication.” Asked if he wanted to clear up reports he mulled another retirement, he said, “No, just leave it and let it fester.”
▪ Every 49ers player practiced in some capacity Wednesday, though starting right guard Andrew Tiller and safety Marcus Cromartie suffered ankle injuries Monday and were limited in practice.
▪ Rivera said he tried to watch the 49ers-Rams game Monday night but admitted he fell asleep early in the fourth quarter. Not only was it close to 1 a.m. on the East Coast, the Rams and 49ers combined for seven punts and zero scores in a stagnant third quarter.