A lot has changed for the San Francisco 49ers since Arik Armstead last appeared in a game. The team added Christian McCaffrey at the close, activated and then lost Jason Verrett for the year and, thanks to a Week 2 tie-breaker, have won four more games en route to a top record in the NFC West.
Did the 49ers miss Armstead? Certainly; While the duo of Kevin Givens and Hassan Ridgeway have performed far beyond expectations as center backs for Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam, Armstead has signed a five-year, $85 million deal for a reason. Luckily, hopefully fans won’t have to wait too long to see Armstead back on the football field as the University of Oregon product officially returned to practice for the 49ers on Friday before their Week 12 game against the New Orleans Saints. Listed on the team’s website as “doubtful” for the competition with a “foot, ankle,” this is the first time Armstead has trained since October 1 and only the fifth time he has, according to the team’s injury reports enters the training field as a whole.
Although only time will tell when Armstead actually returns to the field for the 49ers, it’s clear his return will be a welcome one, given that two months away is an eternity in pro football.
With Armstead’s status up in the air for almost two months, more than a few fans wanted to see the Niners sign Ndamukong Suh to take his place, but unfortunately it never materialized. After the trade deadline passed, Suh seemingly woke from hibernation and made his intentions clear that he wanted to join the Philadelphia Eagles, and in what felt like an hour, a deal was struck.
When asked about the decision not to pursue Suh more vigorously, John Lynch explained his reasoning, as detailed by KNBR.
“We spoke to him last year and we spoke to him earlier this year. It just never materialized,” Lynch said. “I think ultimately it sounds like he really sought out the Eagles as a place to be. You can’t get them all. He’s a good football player coming to the end of his career, but I’m sure he’ll help them and be a good catch-up for the Eagles.”
Would it have been nice to have Suh over opposing centers in recent months? Sure, but it sounds like that’s not really an option.
Lynch spoke about Armstead’s status on Wednesday, updating the media, fans and Saints alike Murph & Mac Show on the course of his rehabilitation, transcribed again by KNBR.
“It took a long time to come back for Arik,” Lynch said. “I don’t know if he’ll make it this week. If not, I think we’ll look really good after that if we keep going like this.”
Fortunately, since Lynch’s interview, Armstead has returned to the field for the 49ers and participated in at least some practice, so his return may actually be “right after.”