49ers’ Arik Armstead had hairline ankle fracture, says return ‘coming soon’

SANTA CLARA — Arik Armstead’s 2022 NFL season has not gone according to the plan, but the 49ers’ defensive lineman told NBC Sports Bay Area that his return is “coming soon.”

Armstead said Monday that he is nearly recovered from a hairline fracture in his left ankle that has kept him out of the lineup since Week 4

“I was hoping to be on the earlier side of returning, but I’m still on schedule,” Armstead said during the 49ers’ open locker room availability on Monday.

Armstead has also been recovering from plantar fasciitis in the same foot that was exacerbated by playing in the 49ers’ Week 4 game against the Los Angeles Rams.

The veteran lineman started feeling pain in his foot in the season opener against the Chicago Bears, with the pain increasing in the 49ers’ next game at Levi’s Stadium against the Seattle Seahawks.

Armstead was seen testing out his foot at Empower Field at Mile High before sitting out of the 49ers’ loss to the Denver Broncos, and then returned to play the first time the team faced the Rams at Levi’s Stadium,

Armstead has been unable to practice since. The 49ers’ medical and training staff are being careful with him, wanting to ensure that he does not return too soon, causing a setback that could keep him out for an even longer stretch.

Normal recovery for a fracture ranges from 4-to-6 weeks, with Armstead’s size and weight possibly making a return from a foot or ankle injury even longer. The 49ers’ Week 10 matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers would mark six weeks since Armstead’s injury occurred.

Sitting on a chair in front of his locker, Armstead was in good spirits and did not have any visible support devices on his injured foot. The 28-year old did say that he needs to be pain-free to return to practice, which he said has been frustrating.

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Armstead had not missed a game in his last four seasons with 49ers and might be one of the more under-appreciated contributors of the 49ers’ defense. While the eight-year NFL vet might not be highly visible on the stat sheets, what Armstead does to clog up the middle of the field is a substantial part of the group’s ability to stop the run.

Armstead’s return can’t come fast enough as the 49ers’ defense is set to face a long list of very talented running backs in the second half of the season, starting with Austin Ekeler next Sunday night.

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