The 49ers defensive end speaks with Boardroom about Brock Purdy’s breakout, the best and worst ways he’s spent his money, and his outlook for the team going forward.
Though he played just nine regular season games for the San Francisco 49ers last season due to foot and ankle injuries, star defensive end Arik Armstead recorded a sack in two of the Niners’ three postseason games.
The 29-year-old pass-rusher has logged eight NFL seasons already and is three years into a five-year, $85 million contract that includes $40 million in guarantees, and at Super Bowl week last month in Phoenix, the hulking 6-foot-7 Armstead was candid about how much he spends to preserve his body, estimating that he doles out $200,000 per year to stay at peak performance.
“You have to invest in your body,” Armstead told Boardroom. “You have to invest in yourself. That’s what’s allowed me to be in this position — my body — so I have to take care of it.”
Armstead’s preservation regimen includes massage therapy, acupuncture, hyperbaric chambers, and even some international travel for stem cell therapy. Those helpful expenditures stand in contrast to some of the more questionable buys he admitted to making in the past, however, like designer clothes he never ended up wearing that still sit in his closet today. While he doesn’t wear jewelry, the Sacramento native once bought a chain for two weeks before realizing it was a mistake. Armstead ended up re-purposing it into a necklace and bracelet for his wife, salvaging the situation.
You live, you spend, you learn.
Armstead and the 49ers nearly salvaged a horrific year of injuries at the quarterback position into a Super Bowl appearance. Week 1 starter Trey Lance suffered a season-ending broken ankle in Week 2, Jimmy Garoppolo broke his foot in Week 13, and unsung rookie sensation Brock Purdy tore the UCL in his throwing elbow in a blowout NFC Championship loss in Philadelphia after entering the game undefeated as a starter.
It was a disappointing end to the campaign, but Purdy’s success is something Armstead definitely did not see coming after being the last pick taken in the 2022 draft.
“I don’t think anyone can say they did,” Armstead said, “but he had a confidence and assertiveness about himself that gave him a chance to be good. And he went out there and did it.”
Looking ahead, Armstead said he isn’t sure whether Lance, the 22-year-old No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, or the 23-year-old Purdy will start San Francisco’s season opener this fall, but he knows training camp will be a battle once both of them get healthy. “We can win with either of them, but we’ll see what the plans are,” he said.
And as impressive as he was, it was probably increasingly strange for Purdy to both be the Niners’ out-of-nowhere savior starter and have to complete rookie duties like making food runs and carrying pads for his veteran teammates. Armstead recalled during his own rookie season in 2015 being responsible for buying his teammates dinner and taking them to a Golden State Warriors game.
“Little did they know, I really finessed it, but they let me because I was a good rookie,” he said. “My plan was to go to dinner, get a party bus to the Warriors game, get a suite at the Warriors game. Luckily, I knew someone on the Warriors — my guy Festus Ezeli, who was playing on the Warriors at the time — so I got the suite for free.”
Armstead was nonetheless praying that his fellow Niners didn’t run the dinner bill up on him, but he had a plan either way.
“I took them to Fogo de Chao, which has a set price,” he said. “They had food and drinks in the suite, which was cool, so I got out of there only like $4,500, $5,000. It was good.”
These days, Armstead is a starter on a potent defensive line that features Fred Warner and Nick Bosa, the latter of whom has a very specific diet to help him retain his All-Pro form.
“I can confirm that Nick Bosa hasn’t eaten a carb in like six months,” Armstead said, “and right when the season ends, I always see him eat his first carb for a long period of time. That’s pretty crazy to me because I don’t have that kind of discipline.”
Fewer snacks, more sacks.
The defensive unit is the single biggest reason why Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers have made three of the last four NFC title games, but they came up short two years in a row. The circumstances didn’t go San Francisco’s way in January, but Armstead seemed more down by loss to the soon-to-be-defending champion Rams in the NFC Championship two seasons ago after defeating Los Angeles six times in a row.
But now, its onto the most intriguing part of the offseason — free agency and the return of team minicamps as the summer months approach quicker and quicker.
“We have a great team. I believe in us,” Armstead said.
“And we’ll be back.”
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