In 2016, Arik Armstead suffered a torn muscle in his left shoulder and missed the final eight games of the season. In 2017, he broke a hand in Week 6 and missed the final 10 games.
Since playing all 16 games of his rookie year in 2015, the former No. 1 pick out of Oregon has played in just 14 of a possible 32 games, a big blow to a defense that needs the big, strong defensive lineman. The Niners love Armstead and what he can bring to the defensive line when he’s healthy, and in May the team picked up the fifth-year option on his contract.
Last season, he was playing well at defensive end – especially against the run – and had 16 tackles and 1½ sacks when he broke his hand. Some fans questioned his toughness at the time and wondered why he couldn’t wrap up the hand and play with “a club,” as some players do.
A frustrated and angry Armstead – who had played at Oregon with a wrapped, injured hand -- answered back on Twitter, writing: “For all you geniuses that think (you’re) doctors. If I could play with a club I would. Wasn’t an option.”
In fact, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh defended Armstead, saying he’d played a quarter and a half with the broken hand, saying, “He’s tough. I will never question that man’s toughness.”
Now, Armstead has been hit by another injury in the opening days of the team’s training camp in Santa Clara.
According to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan reported Tuesday that Armstead has a “somewhat” serious hamstring injury that could keep him off the field multiple weeks.
It’s possible Armstead could recover and regain his momentum before opening day, which is September 9, more than a month away.
Certainly, Armstead wants to get back on the field. As he told a reporter just before the start of training camp, he’s eager to play a full season.
“I’ve been hurt two years in a row, so that brings a lot of, ‘What are you going to do?’ ” he said. “So definitely have a lot to prove and look forward to having a healthy season, and I know what I’m capable of if I’m on the field.”
The 49ers’ first exhibition game is set for Aug. 9 vs. the visiting Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium.