San Francisco 49ers: NaVorro Bowman ignites hope this season


So much for limiting NaVorro Bowman’s work in the preseason. The inside linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers was missed last year after suffering a major injury in the 2014 NFC Championship. After a tumultuous offseason, fans were hoping that Bowman could return to form and be a leader on the defense. He’s shown quite a bit of promise so far this preseason.

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Bowman tore his ACL and MCL in his left leg, and the healing process went through the entire 2014 regular season. It was a slow process returning to the field, staying out of the first preseason game against the Houston Texans. While he was looking good in practice, it was a wonder if he’d see much, if any, actual game action.

In a report from Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area, Bowman acknowledged that he didn’t want to return to the field too quickly after his horrific injury.

"“I have high expectations,” he said. “And when something doesn’t go right, it’s not an excuse for my knee, but it’s just what it is. I know what it is that causes me not to make that play or not get to that point. I just have to keep working.”"

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The linebacker made his debut against the Dallas Cowboys in the 49ers’ opening drive on defense and made an impact immediately with three tackles. Bowman’s work ramped up considerably in the third preseason game against the Denver Broncos, where he played in 42 snaps — the most of any player on the team last Saturday.

Playing that much was a judgement call by Jim Tomsula. Bowman was only scheduled to be in for 10 snaps, but the head coach liked what he saw from the linebacker and let him play throughout the first half. James Brady of Niners Nation gave high praise to Bowman in his outings and detailed how great he looked against the Broncos.

"Saturday’s game against the Denver Broncos was especially solid for Bowman. He had a pair of sacks early, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. He had seven solo tackles and nine total tackles and he just looked as fast and dominant out there as I remember him."

Aug 28, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis (52) before a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Seeing Bowman look this good has easily sparked the confidence in the defense. It’s the clear strength of the team despite losing its defensive coordinator and so many great players and future talent such as Patrick Willis and Chris Borland.

It’s something that fans can be excited about — it aids the extremely timid offense that certainly has some questions heading into the new season.

It’s also an inspiration to see Bowman play at this high of level after such a brutal injury. He is the best player on the 49ers in all three phases of the game.

The question was if that talent would ever show on the field again. Would Bowman play his hardest knowing in the back of his mind that such a crushing injury can happen again on just one play?

Considering how hard he played in a meaningless preseason game, Bowman wanted to prove to everyone that he was ready to lead the defense in a new era for the 49ers.

He may not be exactly at 100% yet just two games in after a full year off, but he’s playing with the passion that hopefully resonates with other players.

Next: San Francisco 49ers: Lack of offense concerning in preseason

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