Arik Armstead is out with broken hand but not lacking toughness

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Soon after the San Francisco 49ers announced that Arik Armstead was headed to injured reserve and out for the season with a broken hand, the defensive end began hearing from fans on social media.

Some offered Armstead support but others saw it as an opportunity to question his toughness for choosing not to play with a clubbed cast on his hand. Apparently, the badgering was enough to force Armstead to offer a response on Wednesday afternoon.

Armstead suffered the injury last week against the Washington Redskins. He played 22 defensive snaps before calling it a game but at least some of those came after he suffered the injury.

Told that Armstead had been getting some backlash on Twitter for not playing with a "club," Niners defensive coordinator Robert Saleh took up for the third-year end.

"Arik played a quarter and a half with that broken hand," Saleh said. "He's a tough son of a b. He is. He's tough. I will never question that man's toughness. If he could've played with a club, he would've played with a club. If he could play with one hand, he'll play with one hand. It's just unfortunate the injury, the location of where it was. But, he did play a quarter and a half with it and he actually dominated the man in front of him. It's just an unlucky break on his part.”

The 49ers picked Armstead in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft but he's struggled to stay on the field over the past two seasons. A shoulder injury cost him half of the Niners' games in 2016 and now he will miss the final 10 games of this season. In the first six games of the year, Armstead had 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

While Armstead hadn't really jumped off the page with big numbers, Saleh had been pleased with his improvement over the past couple of weeks.

"Arik Armstead for the last two weeks had been playing some very, very good football, he really was," Saleh said. "I'm really hurting for him, I'm not going to lie to you."