49ers 2011 Roster Confidence, Inside Linebacker: NaVorro Bowman Next To Willis

Takeo Spikes is a free agent, and nobody quite knows what the means going forward. It's probably best to assume that free agency will work much the same way it has in the recent past, but that still doesn't guarantee that Spikes is returning. His level of play in 2010 was through the roof, far exceeding anybody's expectations, but the coaching staff was leaning towards a youth movement, inserting the rookie NaVorro Bowman into the starting lineup, despite Spikes' high level of play.

It was a bad idea, as Bowman showed defenciencies in almost every area of his game. He missed tackles and was susceptible to the juke move, while he also gave up receptions and was lackluster in coverage. He didn't get much penetration when rushing the passer. This all is referring to when he was starting at the TED linebacker position next to Patrick Willis. Bowman simply was not playing the position at the level that we'd have liked.

But it was kind of expected, to be honest. I said that Bowman would pan out to be the best draft pick for the 49ers in 2010, and I stand by that, but we all knew that he was going to need to adjust. Namely, he'd need to put on size and learn the position. He did put on a little bit of weight, and didn't look entirely lost out there, but the talent is there and the size will come. The question is: will the talent come sooner rather than later?

I'm not entirely convinced. Bowman did finish the season off on a high note however, when he started in place of Patrick Willis in week seventeen and looked great. This just might add fuel to the fire though, as many said he was more befitting a MIKE linebacker than a TED, and wouldn't you know it: he played his best as a MIKE. Still, another offseason of potentially putting on weight and learning the position, being such a talented and receptive kid? Gotta think he can do what he needs to.

Either way, it's time to vote for confidence levels. Today will be a little bit different. Voting for a '10' still implies absolute beast, going to start and blow everybody away - in other words, you couldn't ask for more. Voting a '7' would imply that you believe Bowman will play better than Takeo Spikes, so pretty darn good. '5' would imply that you have confidence in the kid, but Spikes is the better option and you are not totally secure with him as a starter. '4' and below would be varying degrees of "this guy sucks and should have never been drafted."

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