Jun 17, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis (52) watches drills during minicamp at the 49ers practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Willis moving into NaVorro Bowman's linebacker role

The San Francisco 49ers will be without linebacker NaVorro Bowman to start the 2014 season. Bowman is recovering from his torn ACL in that cringy worthy incident last season, and it looks like linebacker Patrick Willis is sliding into his spot to fill in for Bowman’s absence.

From the 49ers’ website:

Patrick Willis has been playing NaVorro Bowman’s “Mike” linebacker position this offseason. Willis has mastered the “Jack” inside linebacker spot, but will take on the strong-side position while Bowman recovers from his torn ACL. Willis was on the field throughout the offseason program and spoke positively about Bowman’s rehab work.

So far it looks like Bowman returning in the 2014 season would be a pretty big accomplishment. 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has said the 49ers expect Bowman to return to the field in the middle-to-late stages of the ’14 regular season, much like wide receiver Michael Crabtree returning late in the 2013 season.

Willis should do a good job filling in for Bowman, but the 49ers have enough talent on defense to not put the burden on Willis himself.

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