Who will stay, who will go? 49ers' five most intriguing free-agency decisions
When the season ends, Arik Armstead will have spent 18 of the 49ers’ last 32 games on injured reserve.
But general manager John Lynch on Tuesday said the team has been happy with the former first-round pick and thinks he has “a bright future” with the 49ers.
“We’re real pleased,” Lynch said during a round-table talk with reporters. “We think he’s a fit with what we are and who we are going forward.”
Armstead, the 17th overall pick in the 2015 draft, will be heading into the final year of his contract when the 2018 offseason begins. Lynch and the 49ers will have to decide in the spring, however, whether to exercise a fifth-year option for Armstead, which would pay him the average of the third through 25th highest salaries at his position and extend his contract through 2019.
Lynch said that the game that sent Armstead to injured reserve, Week 6 at Washington, also was his best game of the season.
Armstead (Pleasant Grove High School) had three tackles in that contest, including one behind the line of scrimmage. “We’d seen glimpses,” Lynch said, “but he kind of put it all together.”
Armstead broke a bone in his hand that game with the fracture in a part of his hand that didn’t allow him to simply put on a cast and play the rest of the season.
“And believe me, he wanted to,” Lynch said. “But because (the break) was right in the joint, he was advised he could really hurt it long term.”
Armstead’s 2016 season ended after eight games with a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery. He began the current season playing the so-called “Leo” defensive end spot, which usually goes to the team’s top pass rusher. The idea was that Armstead would man the position on base downs with veteran Elvis Dumervil entering on obvious passing downs.
Since Armstead’s injury, Solomon Thomas, Aaron Lynch, Leger Douzable and Ronald Blair have filled in at that role.
Jones waived – The 49ers waived defensive lineman Datone Jones, freeing up a roster spot that could go to Tank Carradine later in the week.
Jones, a former first-round pick by the Green Bay Packers, was one of three defensive linemen the team signed last month after a wave of injuries struck the position. Another, Tony McDaniel, was released on Monday after the 49ers claimed Sheldon Day off of waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jones recorded six tackles in three games for the 49ers. Carradine, meanwhile, went on injured reserve in September with a high-ankle sprain. He is eligible to return to the active roster this week. Carradine started the first thee games this season at left defensive end, what the 49ers call the “big end” spot.
Et cetera – Lynch said “it’s probably a long shot” that rookie Adrian Colbert plays Sunday after having surgery on his broken thumb last week. Lynch said Colbert’s debut at free safety against the Giants in Week 10 was “characteristic of a starter, a big-time starter.”
▪ Lynch and four ex-49ers were named semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2018 class. He joins running back Roger Craig (with 49ers from 1983-90) and wide receivers Terrell Owens (1996-2003), Isaac Bruce (2008-09) and Randy Moss (2012).
▪ Lynch attended the Big Game between Stanford and Cal last weekend not as a talent evaluator but as a proud dad. His son, Jake, is being recruited by Stanford as a linebacker.