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Darnell Dockett Just Gave Strong Praise to 3 Key 49ers

From the first moment he stepped foot into the San Francisco 49ers locker room, Darnell Dockett became one of the most respected men in the building.

A veteran of 11 seasons, the defensive lineman has 40.5 career sacks to his name and a wide array of knowledge to pass on to the younger generation.

A day after participating in his first team drills since signing with the 49ers this spring, Dockett addressed the media on Tuesday. Here are three headline-worthy topics he touched on, including lofty praise for the club's top draft pick.

  1. Armstead likened to Campbell, only better

Dockett knows what it's like to play with a physical freak. For seven years in Arizona, Dockett had a d-line teammate by the name of Calais Campbell, a 6-foot-8 behemoth.

Now with the 49ers, Dockett is helping mentor another d-line giant – first-round draft pick Arik Armstead.

Campbell is already an established Pro Bowl-caliber player in the NFL, but which freakish lineman does Dockett believe has the highest ceiling? That would be Armstead.

"Arik's got a better upside – strong, fast, athletic, played basketball. And he listens. He's going to be a dominant force for us," Dockett said. "I'm glad to be able to enjoy rookie (dinner) night with him and really take advantage of him. Because at some point in his career, man, he's going to be a dominant force, and he's going to be terrorizing everything."

Dockett added that Armstead landed in a perfect spot with the 49ers, a team that will give him a knowledgeable nutritionist, some of the best strength coaches in the league, veterans to learn from and a coaching staff that will take care of his health.

"As far as playing ability, that's on Arik," Dockett said. "How bad does he want it? How bad does he want to train in the offseason? The biggest thing is he asks questions and he listens and he responds. Some guys come in who were taken in the first round and think they know everything. He's not like that.

"He asks questions, and he wants to learn. He's very humble. That's what I really like about him the most."

  1. Moody a breakout candidate

The middle of the 49ers defense might be without Patrick Willis and Chris Borland, but one of the guys tasked with replacing those two play-makers has been an early bright spot in training camp.

Nick Moody, receiving first-team inside linebacker reps with Michael Wilhoite (leg) sidelined, looks like a man determined to win a starting job.

But if you ask Dockett if he's surprised about Moody's success, the answer is an emphatic "no."

"One of the guys I trained with this entire offseason, and he's very passionate, is Nick Moody," Dockett said. "He's had the best offseason that I've seen from anybody. I walked in (Tuesday), and he was actually by himself watching film.

"Being in an organization with Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, it's kind of like, 'Why not him?' I'm very impressed with Nick. The sky is the limit for him. If he has a big year, I won't be surprised. Anything less than that would be a disappointment because he has worked his tail off."

Moody, a sixth-round pick out of Florida State in 2013, played in all 16 games a year ago and recorded 21 tackles.

  1. Dockett cool with Tomsula's rep count

Through the first three days of training camp, Dockett has only received a handful of snaps in 11-on-11 periods.

But even though he sounded a little bored by being limited to individual work, the veteran understands the logic behind Jim Tomsula's thinking.

"I've had some words with him," Dockett said, smiling. "He's a good guy. He obviously has been doing this longer than I have, and I've been doing it a long time.

"He's one of those guys that wants to make sure we have all our weapons come September. And I respect that. You don't win games the first week or training camp, nor the second week. So guys that have been in the league a long time and are proven, we want to make sure are ready for the first game of the season. So I get it, but I'm anxious to get out there."

When Dockett has gotten mixed in with the first- and second-team units, it's been as a nickel pass-rusher. Again though, the veteran is happy with whatever role the 49ers give him.

"I'm fine starting anywhere. Kicker, punter, holder, it doesn't matter. I just want to play football," Dockett said. "When you miss football for a whole year, at this point in my career, I want to do everything I possibly can to put this team back on the top of the map. I want to make sure we have opportunity to make the playoffs when everyone thinks we don't have a chance.

"Let's do something big. Let's do something nobody thinks we can do. I'm all in."

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