NaVorro Bowman has lost a step
I hate saying that.
Linebacker NaVorro Bowman has meant so much to the 49ers over the years. But his lateral movement and speed in coverage are now compromised due to the knee injury and Achilles tear he suffered in 2014 and last October, respectively.
Rumors before the season had the 49ers shopping Bowman, a rumor quickly shot down by both Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.
And although Bowman was given a $77 million contract extension by former GM Trent Baalke in August 2016, the drafting of first-round pick Reuben Foster and free-agent signing of Malcolm Smith may have been the writing on the wall.
Smith was injured in the offseason and will miss the 2017 season.
“I do strongly believe keeping Bo as fresh as possible gives him the best chance to be successful – it gives our team the best chance”- Kyle Shanahan
Bowman, to his credit, continues to grind. Even while leading the team in tackles this past Sunday with 10 tackles, Bowman was taken off the field for nearly three series Sunday, a move Shanahan claimed in his post-game press conference was an attempt to keep Bowman “fresh.”
Bowman did not seem too happy with that explanation, as seen in the video below, courtesy of NBC Sports Bay Area:
No one can take away the competitive fire and will to win that a player such as Bowman brings to the table, and once rookie linebacker Reuben Foster returns to the field, the middle of the 49er defense should stabilize.
Heading into 2018, the 49ers may decide to move on from Bowman and make Foster the centerpiece of the linebacking corps, with a healthy Smith by his side. But until then, Bowman may have to get used to sharing time with Foster, Brock Coyle and Ray Ray Armstrong for the time being.