Born and raised in Northern California, Arik Armstead has been a staple of the San Francisco 49ers' organization for close to the last decade. And he's ready to see his team finally win a Super Bowl this season.
The 17th-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Armstead has developed into one of the better interior defensive linemen in the NFL and is an integral part of the 49ers' talented defense.
But for whatever reason, Armstead shockingly hasn't made a single Pro Bowl in his career. He's hoping that his impressive 2023 performance is enough to earn him his first Pro Bowl appearance.
As impressive as Armstead has been on the field this season, his efforts off the field throughout his career cannot be understated. The Oregon product has been the 49ers' Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee four years in a row.
Armstead recently teamed up with Oobli, a Bay Area-based company that uses tiny amounts of protein as a new way to sweeten food and beverages. We sat down with Arik to discuss his partnership with Oobli and a number of 49ers-related topics.
The full interview can be found by clicking this link or by visiting the Stacking The Box YouTube channel. Below is a partial transcription of our conversation.
Arik Armstead on his partnership with Oobli
Justin Fried: "So, you're here today on behalf of Oobli. Can you tell me a little bit about what exactly Oobli does, how you got started with them, and how you’re using it to help improve your day-to-day life?"
Arik Armstead: "Oobli is looking to change the world and how we sweeten our food in a much more healthy way. When I first heard about Oobli and sweet proteins, I was a little confused because we think of proteins as muscle builders. The equivalent of one gram of a sweet protein is 2,000 grams of sugar. We're looking for new ways to be healthy by eliminating artificial sweeteners. It's been a great partnership so far, and I'm excited to continue telling the story of Oobli. Our health is of the utmost importance, especially for me as a professional athlete. My family has some Diabetes issues. I know that since I'm predisposed to that, I need to take care of myself and watch my sugar intake. Oobli is helping me do that."
Should Brock Purdy win MVP?
JF: "Talk to me a little about the growth you've seen from Brock Purdy over the last two years that's allowed him to elevate his game to an MVP level."
AA: "I've seen a poise, work ethic, and talent that he came into the league with. He finds ways to get better each and every day. He's extremely humble. He doesn't make the same mistake twice. He's a fast learner. I think he should be the frontrunner for MVP this year — he continues to be a remarkable story from Mr. Irrelevant to MVP, hopefully."
Will Arik Armstead make the Pro Bowl this season?
JF: "You’ve been in the NFL for nine years now, and somehow you haven’t made a Pro Bowl. I was genuinely shocked to see that. Do you think this is the year you finally get in?"
AA: "I know man, I can't believe it either. I think so. I think this is the year. I've been snubbed in the past. In 2019 and 2021, I felt like I was deserving of it. We'll see if it happens this year. It's a big goal of mine to be recognized in that way. I feel like I've been playing at that level. Obviously, playing in the Super Bowl [is the plan], but being honored in the Pro Bowl would be amazing."
Arik Armstead on his Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination
JF: "Now, I feel like I’d be doing a disservice if didn’t give you a huge shoutout for your Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination. That’s now four years in a row for you. That’s an incredible achievement, and it’s evidence of all the amazing work you do on and off the field. How much does this honor mean to you?"
AA: "It means a whole ton. It brings validity to the work that our organization is trying to accomplish, which is education equity. It brought us a platform, allowing me to impact and serve at a higher level. The recognition and the funds for our organization are tremendously helpful in serving our youth. It's a huge honor for me. I'm definitely humbled. I take great pride in being the representative for the 49ers."
Arik Armstead on Kris Kocurek's impact
JF: "For all the recognition the 49ers' coaching staff receives, I feel like one coach who always flies under the radar is your position coach, defensive line coach Kris Kocurek. Talk to me about the impact that he's had on your career."
AA: "I think, amongst the league, he definitely gets that recognition. He's very well respected. But I don't think outside of coaching, people understand his full impact. Before he came, we weren't playing very good defense. We've been playing tremendous defense these past five years. He's been a tremendous coach for me. He's a coach that I love playing for so much because he cares about defensive line play, and he cares about his players. He instills confidence and belief in his players — something I haven't always had in the league. He's the best coach that I've had. People around the NFL understand that. Teams are always trying to get him away from us, but I'm definitely happy we have him."
Will the 49ers win the Super Bowl this season?
JF: "You’ve been with the 49ers for almost a decade now. You’ve had some losing seasons and, in recent years, a lot of success, but you guys haven’t been able to win it all yet. Is this the year the 49ers finally win the Super Bowl again?"
AA: "I think so. All you can ask for is the opportunity. We have a team capable of winning a Super Bowl, and now it just boils down to execution down the stretch. That's what it boils down to every year. It's hard to win a Super Bowl, obviously. Only one team can win it. I think we have the team to do it, but it's going to come down to those important moments."