Armstead explains ‘fine line’ in defending mobile QB like Hurts originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Arik Armstead knows facing the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field will be a battle of attrition as both sides jockey for the win.
However, he also knows that the 49ers‘ defense needs to be disciplined regarding when to go all out or tone it down against a mobile quarterback like the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts in order for them to win.
“It’s tough,” Armstead told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco on the latest episode of “49ers Talk,” which debuted Friday. “It’s definitely a fine line … there’s kind of some of those tweener plays where it could kind of go either way.
“So you just got to be smart, know that in certain situations that he’s going to slide and don’t hit him in the head or neck area or don’t even land on him — just let him slide and tap him down.”
Along with being a threat to throw accurate passes, Hurts’ ability to run was showcased in the 2022 NFL regular season. In 15 games played, the 24-year-old had 13 rushing touchdowns, five more than Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields.
For context, the gap between Hurts and Fields is as large as the gap between Fields and Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, who is tied for sixth-most rushing touchdowns with Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray and Kenny Pickett with three apiece.
Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans knows how difficult it is to contain Hurts and laid out a plan for how to slow down the star quarterback.
“I think there has to be a good balance with the shot plays and the running,” Ryans told reporters Friday. “… We know the challenge that we have this week when guys have to go up and be able to make a play. They get opportunities when the ball is up, it’s an opportunity for us to go up and make the play. That’s how I view it, and when it comes to him scrambling around, that’s all 11.”
Ryans added that everyone on the defensive line has to be focused if their game plan is to succeed.
“… Everybody has to do their job, be where they’re supposed to be, and we play defense with all 11 as a group swarming. That’s what’s going to help us defend the quarterback running,” Ryans said.
In the end, Armstead reiterates that smart decisions and making good plays ultimately are what will aid in slowing down Hurts.
“It’s a big-time game, you never know. He might try to fight for extra yards or do something out of the norm so it’s definitely a tough position to be in, but just got to be smart in those situations and just play if how it comes,” Armstead concluded.
RELATED: Ryans shares how 49ers’ defense can stop Hurts’ big-play runs
As the hours tick down to the NFC title game, both teams are making sure their preparations pay dividends when it counts.
For Armstead, he knows what to do — all that’s left is to execute.