San Francisco 49ers

49ers draft thoughts: Anatomy of a trade; Arik Armstead’s year 1 role

Video: Arik Armstead tours 49ers Museum

Arik Armstead and his parents get a tour of the 49ers Museum at Levi Stadium in San Francisco, California, on Friday, May 1, 2015, a day after Armstead was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. Video by Matt Barrows.
Up Next
Arik Armstead and his parents get a tour of the 49ers Museum at Levi Stadium in San Francisco, California, on Friday, May 1, 2015, a day after Armstead was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. Video by Matt Barrows.

When the Dolphins, picking at No. 14, were on the clock, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke was on the phone with the Chargers about a possible trade down. San Diego wanted running back Melvin Gordon and were hoping the Dolphins would take someone else. They did, Louisville receiver DeVante Parker.

"If their guy wasn’t picked, we had already executed the trade in principle," Baalke said. "And when their guy wasn’t picked, we just went through with it.”

The 49ers ended up trading down two slots, from No. 15 to No. 17, and picked up an extra fourth-round pick this year and an extra fifth next year. The Chargers slipped in front of the Texans, who ostensibly also were interested in Gordon. Houston took cornerback Kevin Johnson instead.

Baalke, meanwhile, said he had two players in mind when he made the trade. Arik Armstead obviously was one of the them. Who was the other? Probably a cornerback -- Johnson (no. 16), Marcus Peters (No. 18) or Byron Jones (No. 27).

“I wouldn’t tell you how our board was stacked, Matt," he said when asked the identity of No. 2. "That would be a death sentence."

**************************

In the run-up to the draft, Armstead was consistently described as "raw." He bristled at that adjective during a conference call on Thursday. “No, I don’t think I am raw," he said. "If you watch film of me, you’ll see a technically sound player."

Still, both Baalke and Jim Tomsula hinted that Armstead may not make an immediate impact. Playing defensive line for the 49ers is difficult, Tomsula said, and rookies rarely get a lot of playing time right away.

One possible role for Armstead this season: As a designated pass rusher, someone who enters the game at defensive tackle on obvious passing downs. That's when Aldon Smith entered games his rookie season, one in which he finished with 14 sacks.

The assignments would be more straight forward in passing situations. And Armstead still could end up with a healthy number of snaps. Smith, for example, didn't start a single game in 2011 but still played 489 of 1,014 defensive snaps that season.

**************************

At the risk of scrutinizing the 49ers' new uniform photos too heavily ... I thought it was notable who was tapped to model the new duds. In the past, for example, Patrick Willis and Frank Gore would have been part of any small group representing the 49ers.

They're gone, of course, and the five guys modeling the all-black unis on Thursday were tackle Joe Staley, tight end Vernon Davis, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, linebacker NaVorro Bowman and safety Eric Reid. This is the group -- a mix of young and older players, a mix of offense and defense -- the 49ers want to be the faces of the franchise

Two others also must be mentioned when talking about 49ers' leadership -- Anquan Boldin and Antoine Bethea, who won the team's MVP award as voted on by coaches in the last two seasons. Boldin was not part of the team's voluntary minicamp this week. Bathea was on hand Tuesday and Wednesday. It's not known whether he was there Thursday.

Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

  Comments