SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Arik Armstead’s first press conference as a 49er, courtesy of the 49ers public relations department.
It seems like most of the major draft analysts had the 49ers taking you. Did you have a real sense that they were quite interested in you?
“Yeah, I had a good visit when I went there. I felt comfortable with everybody. I really loved it there. Everybody was getting to know me as a person. I kind of felt like they already knew me as a player and I built some good relationships with people there just in a short time period and I am looking forward to continue building that relationship with them.”
You’re not very far away, were the 49ers your favorite team growing up?
“I necessarily didn’t have a favorite team growing up. Of course, with the 49ers being in the area, I always kept a good eye on them. I would watch the games with them always being on TV. I didn’t have a favorite team growing up but I am excited to be close to home. With my family all lives in Northern California, being able to play for the 49ers and represent Northern California being a Northern California guy, it’s going to be huge for me. I want to represent this part of the state in the right way.”
Have the 49ers given you an indication of what they expect from you and where you’ll be playing?
“No. I don’t know exactly where right now, but I am looking forward to working with them and seeing what they have for me. I am going in there looking to work hard at wherever they put me at.”
Of course, head coach Jim Tomsula knows defensive linemen very well. What did he say to you during your visit and what he would like to see you do?
“We didn’t really talk about football. When I visited with coach Tomsula, we sat down there and got to know each other. We talked about pretty much nothing. We talked about music, all those kinds of things. Like I said, they know what my abilities are as a football player, and my meeting with them was just about them getting to know me as a person. I felt like we built a good relationship.”
A lot of people, in the run up to the draft, termed you as a very raw but very gifted and talented prospect. Do you agree with that assessment?
“No, I don’t think I am raw. If you watch film of me, you’ll see a technically sound player. I think I have a lot of room to grow and a lot of things to improve on. I am looking forward to do that with the coaching staff there.”
Why do you think you are the best pick for the 49ers and their defense?
“Just learning a little bit about their defense, we ran a similar scheme up at Oregon. A 3-4 scheme. I think my skill set to be in the 3-4 is perfect. I picked up the defense very easily when I learned it and I feel like I have the skill set and athleticism to play that end position in their defense.’”
You’ve played a lot of basketball. Is it accurate to say that last year was the first year in which you only focused on football?
“Yes, I put down basketball after my sophomore year to focus on football. I feel like it helped me a lot my junior season, a lot more time in the film room, a lot more time in the weight room to get stronger. Just a lot more calm on my mind with just football which helped me a lot.”
A lot of people look at your sack total and wonder why a defensive end didn’t have more sacks last year. Can you talk about what your role on the defense was and whether getting after the quarterback was paramount or whether you did other things along the line?
“My role was to be disruptive. Take on blockers and free up guys at times. My role was to do whatever my coaches asked me and I played my position well. I feel like at Oregon, I did what my coaches asked of me. I put my health on the line playing for them injured. I did whatever they asked me to do out there on the football field.”
Did you get a chance to meet DT Justin Smith during your visit? Was he around?
“No. Justin Smith was not around during my visit.”
What was your injury?
“I had an ankle injury in college my junior season that limited me. I started off the season pretty well, got hurt and kept battling for my team. Playing hurt, trying to do the best I could and I got healthy towards the end of the season.”
What do you have to do to get more pressure on the quarterback and put up more sack numbers?
“Get in there with [defensive line coach] coach [Scott] Brown. Get around some talented coaching minds who are going to push me to the next level and teach me those key technique things to make me successful. I am going in there open minded, looking to work hard and be coached.”
Do you think you can be a nickel pass rusher or are you only a two-down lineman?
“I think I am definitely a nickel pass rusher. Rushing inside over guards and centers is something I did at Oregon in the nickel packages. I think I have the athleticism and the length to do that. I am looking forward to doing that more and having the opportunity to get after the quarterback more.”
You played here at Levi’s® Stadium twice last season with Oregon. What are your thoughts on the stadium and playing here?
“The stadium is great. Being there a couple times, I have some good memories in there, winning the Pac-12 championship in there. That stadium has treated me well. I am looking forward to playing my next game in there and spending however long my career is in there. The stadium is great. I love the architecture of it. I love how hi-tech it is and I am looking forward to playing there for many games to come.”
Have you gotten a sense from the 49ers if they think Justin Smith will be back?
“Oh no. I have no idea what’s going on with that. I had my team visit with them and just now got drafted. That’s the decision he’s going to have to make that’s best for his liking. I really don’t know anything about that.”
Who called you? Who from the 49ers did you talk to?
“I talked to coach Tomsula. He was the first person to call me and various people called me.”
Did you see their black uniforms unveiled today?
“Yes, my friend actually just showed me a couple of minutes ago that [S] Eric Reid posted the black uniforms. Those look sick. I’m looking forward to having an opportunity to wear those, too.
I had a lot of different uniforms at Oregon and so when they mix it up that’s going to be pretty fun.”
Just real quick, are you at home in the Sacramento area and could you tell us who you’re with, like who was there for the announcement with you?
“I’m with my family in Sacramento, close family and friends. We’re heading to a bigger party with more people here in a second. We’re going to all get together and celebrate and enjoy a good time.”
What was it like playing for Pleasant Grove High School coach Joe Cattolico back at Pleasant Grove and what did you learn from him that you can apply transitioning to the NFL?
“Coach Cattolico, he was an awesome coach and I learned a lot from him. I went to a different school my freshman year and I transferred to play for him. He put me in a position to be successful. The biggest thing I probably learned from him is integrity. He didn’t put certain people before others. He treated everybody the same. He taught me hard work and discipline. He was always on me and pushed me to get to the next level. I think that’s something he learned from his dad, Dave Cattolico, who coached at Los Gatos. I learned a lot from him.”
With your connection with Golden State Warriors C Festus Ezeli, how many Warriors games have you seen?
“I’ve been to a couple of Warriors games when I was younger. I was trying to make it to one of the playoff games. Me and Fest have known each other for a while. So, I’m sure with us being around the same area we’ll be able to hang out a lot more. But, I’m going to try to make it to one of the games, hopefully pretty soon. I didn’t get to make it to the last series, but I don’t want to, Fest has a lot of family and I wouldn’t want to bother him and ask for tickets or anything like that.”
Do you have a relationship with any players currently on the 49ers or did you meet any on your visit?
“Yeah. I met some of them on my visit and I had previous relationships. Of course my brother going to USC, he played with [CB] Shareece Wright, who’s a new 49er. So, I’ve known Shareece since I was a little kid. Of course [C] Marcus Martin, [TE] Xavier Grimble and then also [LB Aaron] Lynch. I met him on my Notre Dame visit. I know a couple of guys on the team and look forward to being around some familiar faces.”