SANTA CLARA -- A 49ers team that has been threadbare at inside linebacker this season took a step toward stocking that position for next year by signing Ray-Ray Armstrong to a two-year contract extension.
Armstrong, who was scheduled to become a free agent in March, won a starting spot against an undistinguished group of candidates during the preseason but suffered a torn pectoral muscle in Week 2 that ended his season. He had nine tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery through that point and showed a knack for being around the ball.
“Ray-Ray had a strong offseason and was off to a good start in 2016 prior to being sidelined for the season due to injury,” general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “He has continued to work hard in his rehab and is a young player with a bright future in front of him. We look forward to his continued development and contributions, both on and off the field.”
The 49ers lost another early-season starter at the position, NaVorro Bowman, to an Achilles tear. Against the Falcons on Sunday, their lack of depth was further exposed when Gerald Hodges was suspended for violating team rules after the 49ers arrived in Atlanta.
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Michael Wilhoite and Nick Bellore started the game, but Bellore suffered an elbow injury in the first quarter, forcing players from other positions to play inside linebacker. Bellore was placed on injured reserve Monday and the team filled his roster spot by claiming linebacker Carl Bradford off of waivers from Green Bay.
It's not known whether Hodges will play Saturday against Los Angeles. “We’ll see how the week goes," Chip Kelly said.
The 49ers signed another would-be free agent, tight end Vance McDonald, to a five-year extension earlier this month. McDonald promptly suffered a shoulder injury, ending his season.
Another tight end, Blake Bell, also was lost for the year due to a shoulder injury suffered against the Falcons. The team signed tight end Jim Dray, who was drafted by the Cardinals out of Stanford in 2010, to replace Bell. In addition, receiver Quinton Patton also will miss the final two contests because of a foot injury.
More on the topic: Welcome back? Free agents the 49ers should re-sign.