Here at Niners Nation, we're presenting a series called "90-in-90". We'll be looking at every player on the 49ers offseason roster, one player per post, from now until the start of training camp.
Opposite Patrick Willis plays a guy you may not have heard of before. He's an OK player, if you like Pro Bowls and AP All-Pro selections. Unfortunately, he's too small to effectively play inside in a 3-4 defense, especially after playing outside linebacker in a 4-3 in college at Penn State.
He's also a huge troublemaker, following in his college footsteps. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the name "NaVorro Bowman" on my super-deluxe police scanner ... well ... you know ...
I guess all of these knocks on his game are why he fell to the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He also had durability concerns, and clearly he's been injured just All. The. Time. I guess those draftniks really do get it 100% right ...
OK, enough tomfoolery. We all know that Bowman is one of the best linebackers in the league. If you have eyes, you can see that on the field. Or, you can use those eyes to read all of the pundits, analysts, graders and raters ... who agree with this assessment. His recent contract extension further proves his value to the team and his place among NFL linebackers.
For the record, I bought his jersey two years ago, so I'm towing the bandwagon.
Bowman's stats are excellent over his young career. Take a look for yourself:
2011: 16 games started, 143 tackles, 111 solo, 8 passes defensed.
2012: 16 starts, 148 tackles, 96 solo, 6 PDs, 1 INT.
Bowman is a tackling machine who flies all over the field, much like his counterpart Willis. The two of them pretty much ensure that runs go nowhere and screen passes are foiled. His vision, read of the play, and instincts are amazing; again, just like Willis.
Here is a link to the NFL Network's Top 100 feature on Bowman, showing some of his stats and a few highlights, unfortunately NOT including the great interception of Aaron Rodgers to open the 2012 season, but here is that play.
Why Bowman could improve in 2013:
It might not seem possible, but a few more INTs or an increase in his sack total is probably just about all we could ask from Bowman in terms of improving. The scary thing is, this is just his fourth season. The NFL is a cerebral game, and there's no doubt that the more you learn from experience the better you can be, especially when you're still in your physical prime.
Why Bowman could regress in 2013:
I don't see him missing more tackles all of a sudden. Dude is one of the best tacklers on the squad, by far. Getting beat by tight ends and/or receivers underneath is one thing that could make Bowman look worse in 2013 should defenses decide to really attack him, but I'm not so sure he's not up to that task. Honestly, minor injuries affecting his game are about the only way I see him going backwards this season.
Odds of making the roster:
It's going to be tough ..... yeah, tough for opposing offenses who face Bowman. He's as much of a roster-lock as you can possibly get.