49ers’ Fred Warner Sends 2-Word Message on Arik Armstead

Fred Warner

Getty Fred Warner addressed Arik Armstead's departure during Monday's pre-draft press conference.

Arik Armstead‘s departure from the San Francisco 49ers this offseason caught linebacker Fred Warner off guard.

“Huge surprise,” Warner told reporters on Monday.

San Francisco released Armstead in March when he declined to take a pay cut amid the team’s salary cap needs. A Sacramento native, Armstead signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars after nine seasons with the 49ers.

“Ever since I’ve been here, we called him the blueprint for how to be a Niner. That was the longest-tenured Niner that’s been here and a guy that’s done it right through and through,” Warner said.

Warner joined forces with Armstead in 2018 when the 49ers selected for the former BYU stand out with a third-round pick. At that point, Armstead had only played one full season since the 49ers took him with the No. 17 pick in 2015 out of Oregon.

Fred Warner: ‘Big Shoes to Fill’ With Arik Armstead Gone

Armstead’s play took off in 2018 as he played full seasons for five-straight years. He tallied 33.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and 302 tackles in his time with the 49ers.

“And we obviously got some big shoes to fill at that position. And it’s not up to just one guy to just come in and be the new Arik Armstead,” Warner said. “It’s going to take the whole group to elevate their game to make up for that. So yeah, sad to see him go, for sure.”

San Francisco added defensive end Leonard Floyd as a free agent to help alleviate the loss of Armstead. Floyd has 58 sacks, 362 tackles, four forced fumbles, and two interceptions in his eight-year career. The 49ers signed Floyd to a two-year, $20 million deal.

Warner expressed that he understands the business decisions surrounding Armstead’s exit. The six-year veteran has seen plenty of teammates come and go.

“I’ve been in this thing long enough where, at this point, nothing surprises me,” Warner said. “There are decisions that have to be made. This is a business at the end of the day. And, for him, I’m happy for him and the new opportunity that he has in Jacksonville to go and succeed there and provide for his family.”

Arik Armstead: ‘God Always Has a Plan’

Armstead inked a three-year, $43.5 million deal with the Jaguars. He previously had a five-year, $85 million contract with the 49ers, and Armstead expressed no hard feelings over the team’s decision.

“I felt disrespected in the moment, but there is no animosity or anything,” Armstead told NBC Sports Bay Area last weekend. “I love the people I was around, John [Lynch], Kyle [Shanahan], my teammates, everybody in the organization. Had a lot of great years and I guess all good things come to an end at some point. God always puts you in the position you’re supposed to be.”

“It’s worked out how it’s supposed to,” Armstead added. “God always has a plan for our lives and puts you where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there. Me and my family are excited and happy for the next journey and chapter of our lives and my career.”