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Navorro Bowman makes return to regular season football in 49ers win over Vikings

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Navorro Bowman talks about his new role on the defense, Mangini's schemes, and the one hit that kept him off the field for a play

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers opened up the 2015 season at Levi's Stadium on the Monday Night Football double-header with a lot to prove. Not only was it the debut of the 49ers new alternate black jerseys, but it was also the return NaVorro Bowman's to regular season football. It marked the first time he would play an entire game in well over a year.

Bowman finished the night with seven tackles, one sack for a loss of six yards, one tackle for a loss and one quarterback hit. He was second in production only to Antoine Bethea who had seven solo tackles, one assist, one sack, one QB hit and one pass defensed. Outside of a hit to the groin that kept Bowman off the field for a play, and made many of the Faithful panic, the 49ers linebacker finished the entire game without any physical issues.

Jim Tomsula mentioned how important it is to the team to have Bowman back on the field.

You can't say enough about Navorro Bowman and obviously what he's overcome, and you respect that. He's a great player. But again, one of the things I respect most about Navorro is the way he plays team defense, and he's playing with the guys. You see him running rubs and different things so that other people can make plays off of him. That's unselfish play. That, to me, is what I admire the most.

Bowman has evolved into the leader and role model of the 49er defense and is relishing the experience. After the game, he spoke to the media.

On how it felt to be out there again:

It felt great. You knew going through the process this week, I was trying to time it up to see which day I wanted to take a break and I didn't get to take a whole day and I think that led up to me just getting the knee ready for a complete game to play at a high level. I felt great man, just throughout the whole game, you know, confident, just worried about the game plan, not the knee.

On the changes to the defense during the offseason:

The role that I knew that I was going to have this year, you know, leading by example is really the best way to get a group of guys on the same page. That's basically what I tried to do, leading up to this point, and ultimately demonstrate the type of the play that we like seeing on Sundays, or Mondays I should say. So, you know, it wasn't really a challenge, just having a group of guys that want to be like that, want to be better, want to play with an identity, I think that was a great stepping stone for us today.

On Mangini dialing up blitzes at the right time:

Man, he knows what he's doing. I've been saying since day one we have a lot of variety in this defense and no matter what the offense is doing, we have an answer for it. He's trusted us to take on everything he's been throwing at us and some guys or some defenses can't handle the bulk of it, and we've done a great job as a group with understanding what he's trying to get accomplished and executing it out there on the field.

On how the defense as changed in scheme and personnel:

Scheme wise it allows guys to make a lot of plays and for me as a middle line backer it allows me to command the defense and make all the right checks and get everyone one the right page. Personnel wise we have a group of young guys that know how to play the game of football, but understanding when to take your shots in certain points in the game is really just what they're going to have to learn. As far as personnel we have the guys for it.

On how his role has changed:

A lot more responsibilty and I'm embracing it. It's fun to be exactly as I have to be out there during a football game it's what you live for as a linebacker.

On his expectations on his physical progress:

Honestly, I just want to get through the year and week by week continue getting better and more confident with my knee and ultimately lead this team to the playoffs and so forth.

On what Tomsula is like on the sidelines:

Great, he tells it how it is. Anything negative that happens out there, he's big on moving on to the next play. That's how we operate. We don't try to hop on what's happened before we try to just keep it moving. He's real positive when something good happens but if it's not good, he's going to let us know and that's what you need in a coach, a guy that's right there even keel, and [who] tells us how it is.

On the secret to holding Adrian Peterson to 31 yards:

No secret man, I just think guys were really up for this game. I'm sure Adrian will get a lot better throughout the season, it's his first game in a long time, so we want to show respect to the opponent also, but we started from the bottom and worked our way with a new coaching staff, new play book, and things like that, and had a lot of doubters and I think guys see that we're about business.

About coming out for a play (when the Faithful all had a heart attack):

I just got hit in the groin. I tried to fight it off but it wouldn't let me, but it went away and I was able to go back out there.

On Mangini being on par with Vic Fangio on preparing for a game:

Yeah. I mean, Vic's a great defensive coordinator also. He just does a little bit of things differently. You know some coaches like sitting in and executing a defense and Eric's more of a variety type of coach where he wants the offense to have to defend us instead, than us having to defend the offense.

On Jaquiski Tartt and having three safeties being on the field:

Yeah, me and 'Quasi' we've been trying to get on the same page this whole camp and he's done a great job, being as young as he is, trying to learn as much as coaches ask him to learn with going back to safety and coming up playing in the box. That's a challenge for a rookie. He's done a great job. I enjoy playing with him because he listens and goes out there and does the right thing.

The entire defense had a solid performance, holding the Minnesota Vikings to only 71 yards on the ground, 177 in the air for a grand total of 248 yards.