49ers roster, 90-in-90 breakdowns: NaVorro Bowman

Jonathan Ferrey

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days or in however long we feel like it). Today we focus on inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

Each year, we like to run a series of posts called "90-in-90." The idea is that we'll take a look at every player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few ways. This roster will certainly change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not exactly 90 players in 90 days. At this point, it's a name we're keeping around for street cred.

Seeing NaVorro Bowman go down with injury in the playoffs was tragic, to say the least. It looked bad, bad enough to the point where my leg started to hurt. Seeing that he also managed to recover the fumble was inspiring as all get up, and of course, seeing the idiotic referees blow the call was as infuriating a call you can get without a referee thinking a hit looked too violent and throwing a flag into the air for no reason.

Bowman is so inherently important to this team that, when he sustained the injury, I wasn't even thinking about the San Franicsco 49ers' playoff hopes getting dashed. I wasn't thinking about them losing that game against the Seattle Seahawks and getting bounced out of the NFC Championship. I was thinking about Bowman recovering from what looked to be a devastating injury.

If the 49ers win a Super Bowl, then great, everything they've done over the last several years was worth it, but it's more than a one-year plan, and Bowman is a big part of that plan.

But I'm getting side-tracked. Bowman played a full season and a couple playoff games before he sustained that debilitating ACL tear. How did he look before that? Incredible, as usual. When you hear people talk about Bowman playing as good as or better than Patrick Willis, it's not hyperbole. Don't think for a second that it's an insult to Willis, either. San Francisco has the two best inside linebackers in the NFL, and that was obvious last season.

Bowman was integral in the 49ers winning their Wild Card game against the Green Bay Packers. He managed a forced fumble and 10 tackles in that game, and then put up 11 tackles and a sack against the Carolina Panthers in the Divisional Round. He finished the season with 145 combined tackles, five sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions.

Bowman was named a first-team All-Pro for the third time in 2013, and was named to the Pro Bowl a second time. He was just ridiculously good, and did everything that was asked of him. His injury is a huge, huge deal.

Why he might improve:

This is a tricky question. Bowman tore his ACL, so improvement over an incredible season doesn't seem likely. Managing to secure a tricky fumble despite having just torn your ACL is probably not something that can be improved upon. But Bowman is 26 years old, and if he is healthy, then the sky is the limit, as always. Anything can happen.

Why he might regress:

He could be rusty when he comes back from his injury, but the elephant in the room is obvious here: what if he doesn't recover as expected? The latest word we've had is that he's ahead of schedule on his recovery, and Bowman will be itching to come back to the lineup as soon as humanly possible, but who knows how his body will hold up after that kind of injury? It scares me.

Odds of making the roster:

Aliens. Only aliens.

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