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NaVorro Bowman activation to 53-man roster might have been roster bonus related

The San Francisco 49ers decision to activate NaVorro Bowman from PUP list, and then place him on IR later in the week appears to be related to his 2015 roster bonus. We explain in detail.

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The San Francisco 49ers activated linebacker NaVorro Bowman off the PUP list on Tuesday, only to place him on injured reserve Saturday afternoon. There was some confusion about that, but we may have a little bit of clarity. According to Jason Hurley, it appears that if Bowman had simply gone from PUP to IR with no activation, he would have forfeited any chance at earning $750,000 in 2015 game day roster bonuses.

NaVorro Bowman's contract contains roster bonuses totaling $750,000 for each year from 2014 to 2018. That comes out to $46,875 per game for five years. The bonus is included as one way to save a little money against the cap if Bowman had gotten hurt. He did get hurt, and the 49ers saved that $750,000 this season. Although he was on the 53-man roster for five days, he will not earn a roster bonus on Sunday because he will be a game-day inactive.

There could be other reasons for moving Bowman to the 53-man roster for five days, but more than likely, the 49ers front office threw him a bone for next season. Assuming he is able to return to action for the coming season, there will be an additional $750,000 on the table for him to earn. According to Jason, the 49ers will actually not take a cap hit on that bonus because he missed all of this year. We'll work to get further explanation, but it would appear in that sense to be a bit of a win-win for both sides.

Bowman joined Glenn Dorsey in moving over to injured reserve, and ending their seasons. I have to think the 49ers hoped Dorsey would come around on the biceps injury. It did not happen, and with the season circling the drain, they decided to pull the plug and bring him back for next season.

Bowman and Dorsey will continue their rehab, but they will not be able to join in practice with the team. Once the season wraps, players can keep working out at the facility, but they cannot do anything formal with the full coaching staff until the offseason workout program gets going in late April. The program runs through the middle of June. I wouldn't imagine they would be full go for that program, although with it not starting for four months, that's a lot of rehab time. Either way, they would seemingly have enough time to be 100 percent for the start of training camp in late July. I'm sure we'll hear more reports about their status as the offseason workout program.