Thursday, April 30, 2015

Armstead's A Niner

With the 17th pick of the NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers have selected former Pleasant Grove High School standout Arik Armstead.

"My dream is coming true, there's a long road and lots of work to do, but to play just down the road from my home is truly special," Armstead told reporters Thursday. "I wasn't a 49er fan growing up, but being so close and watching them on TV, I got to know their guys. Being so close and representing Northern California and (Elk Grove) by being a 49er is really nice."

His high school coach, Joe Cattolico, is pleased that the 6-7, 292-pound defensive lineman is a 49er and knew he'd be a high draft choice.

"I'm not surprised," Cattolico texted Thursday. "Glad for him and excited he's a 49er."

Cattolico thinks his former standout will be "fantastic" as a pro.
Arik Armstead, now a 49er

According to the 49er website,  Armstead "improved by leaps and bounds from 2013 to 2014. Elite size with ability to add more bulk to his frame. Quick-twitch athlete. Explodes upfield into blockers with good pad level and hip snap, gaining instant leverage against the run and often jarring them into the backfield. Gets good arm extension to control offensive linemen and peppers them with powerful hands. Can unlock quickly from blocks. Has above-average tackle radius thanks to his length and quickness."

The team initially held the 15th pick in the draft but traded with the San Diego Chargers for their first-round pick, fourth-round pick (117th overall) and 2016 fifth-round pick.

Head coach Jim Tomsula had Armstead targeted in the first round and said he liked what he saw out of the former Oregon Duck.

"He's a big guy who can bend, can exhibit power and we feel good about this," Tomsula said. "His best football is in front of this guy. Take a look at this guy and see him run. Meeting the young man, he's a solid young man. He's got a sparkle."

Niners' general manager Trent Baalke says Armstead is a unique player.

"He's 6-foot-seven who has played in a three-point stance and this young man played through some injuries and what we saw out of him in the late season impressed us," Baalke said. "He played his finest football late in the season."

Armstead is the first Elk Grove-area football player to be drafted in the NFL's first round. All-Pro linebacker Lance Briggs from Elk Grove H.S. was a third round pick out of Arizona.

In basketball, Bill Cartwright, the man whom the school gym is named, was drafted in the first round by the New York Knicks in 1979 out of San Francisco U. Derek Hill, an EGHS baseball player, was taken last summer in the first round by the Detroit Tigers fresh off the Herd diamond.

In 2007, former Laguna Creek Cardinal Casey Weathers was the top pick of the Colorado Rockies out of Vanderbilt University. Weathers has battled some injury but is still playing professionally in the Cleveland Indians' organization.

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