Arik Armstead had a prime opportunity for a safety on Dak Prescott, only to be seen not finishing his sack and easing off on the Dallas Cowboys quarterback that would’ve given the San Francisco 49ers a game-clinching safety in their Sunday, January 22 playoff win.
Armstead took to Twitter after the game to place blame on the league taking a tougher stance on roughing the passer calls, hence his hesitation. But did his head coach Kyle Shanahan see Armstead’s vantage point as well?
“Yeah, I did,” Shanahan said to reporters on Monday, January 23 as transcribed by 49ers Webzone. “It’s an unfortunate, tougher position than it looks to get caught in. I think he thought Dak was going to throw it, so I think he was going in there with the mindset to get his hands up to try to tip it. Then Dak didn’t and it caught him off guard and then he was afraid the position he was in, he was about to hit him high and get a penalty.”
Shanahan Explains Difficulty of Position Armstead Was in
Shanahan himself has become aware of the uptick in personal foul roughing the passer calls the league has seen, even on sacks.
One of the more recent highly discussed calls came during Super Wild Card Weekend of the New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings game, which saw Dexter Lawrence of the Giants get called for roughing the passer on what appeared to be a routine QB takedown.
Shanahan knows how hard it’s become for his own defenders, like Armstead, to scale back on the aggressiveness in chasing QBs.
“When you’re approaching a quarterback, it’s so hard for these guys to hit in that target area and not get a penalty that you really have to approach it the right way,” Shanahan said. “And I believe without talking to him, just watching on film, he was approaching him to get his hands up to tip it — and then all of a sudden when he saw he wasn’t in that situation, he didn’t want to get that 15-yard penalty. Once I watched the tape, I can totally see why it happened, and that’s just kind of the challenges these guys have.”
Armstead Still Delivered Strong Outing, Then Trolled Dallas
Despite the missed attempt on the safety out of fear for getting the yellow marker, the veteran defender still delivered an impactful game against a high-powered offense in Dallas.
Armstead helped perform the dirty work on this heat-seeking tackle delivered by Fred Warner during the first quarter. In what looked like a blocking win for Pro Bower Zack Martin in planting Armstead to the ground, the 49ers’ tactic instead opened a lane for Warner to blow up:
The versatile defensive end/tackle ended his evening with three tackles and one solo stop — all while helping bottle a Cowboys ground game to just 76 yards and averaged just 3.5 yards per carry in the NFC Divisional Round victory at Levi’s Stadium.
Armstead, though, was among a number of 49ers who remembered Cowboy fans wanting to face the 49ers in the playoffs. He clapped back with this postgame tweet response: