Peter King and his MMQB crew were in Santa Clara this past week attending practice as the San Francisco 49ers prepared for their preseason Week 2 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. One of the 49ers big storylines is the return of linebacker NaVorro Bowman. He played against the Cowboys on Sunday, marking his first game since his knee injury in the 2014 NFC Championship Game. He played three snaps against Dallas, finishing with three tackles, including two for a loss.
During the week leading up to the game, King spoke with Bowman, and they had a very interesting exchange about Bowman's practice and game-day prep. King asked Bowman how much time it takes him to get ready to practice or play at this point following his knee injury. Bowman responded:
"About two hours. The massaging and the bending, the flexing of the knee. Once I do that I have a five-minute period where it just needs to relax and then I'm ready to go."
He also said before the injury there really was no necessary prep time. Given the multiple ligaments involved, it is not surprising that it takes him that much more time to prepare for games. Bowman looked great in his three snaps, but the big question of course is how his knee will hold up over the course of a full game and the full season. Someone raised an interesting point:
Bowman needing 2 hrs of prep to be ready to play/practice is worrisome. Wonder if there's a plan to limit snaps early in the season.— Alan Chee (@agchee) August 24, 2015
The 49ers welcomed back Michael Wilhoite to practice on Tuesday. His absence coupled with Bowman's limited snaps through the first two preseason games has resulted in a lot of work for Nick Moody and Shayne Skov. Desmond Bishop was in the mix as well, but he suffered a hand injury that will require surgery. Moody will make the team, and Skov is building his case. It is possible Bowman just goes all out the rest of the way, and that's that, but some rotation would not surprise me.
Earlier this week, former NFL defensive back Rodney Harrison discussed the two-hour preparation comments. Harrison said he suffered a knee injury in which he tore his ACL, MCL and PCL, and that it did not take him nearly two hours to get ready for practice or games. He thought that this comment indicated Bowman might have come back too quickly, and that there should be concern as to how he will be able to walk in the future.
In his interview with Peter King, Bowman had a chance to discuss Chris Borland's retirement. He said that Borland put research into it and made his choice, but "well, for me, you're going to have to carry me off the field."
Harrison also mentioned that comments might make offensive linemen more inclined to take low shots at Bowman's knee, and see just how good it is. I'm not sure I buy that entirely. They know Bowman had major knee surgery, and I would think they would be taking shots at the knee anyway. I suppose maybe it could mean a little bit more than normal, but I don't make much of that at this point.