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NaVorro Bowman done for the year, what’s next?

The adversity is growing by the week. How will the 49ers respond?

The San Francisco 49ers announced on Monday that linebacker NaVorro Bowman suffered an Achilles injury on Monday, and is done for the season. He will likely have surgery, and then begin the recovery and rehab process. The timeline is up in the air for the time being. A year ago, Steve Smith and Arian Foster suffered Achilles tears a few weeks later in the season, and both made it back for training camp. Of course, Bowman is dealing with an injury to his left leg, and already had to recover from a torn up left knee. It is not good.

The question now is what’s next. We know the team will figure out the depth chart and get a pair of inside linebackers out there this Thursday, and for the rest of the season. The basics of it are pretty self-explanatory.

The bigger question I suppose is what’s next for this franchise over the rest of this season. They have other young talent, and players will get plenty of opportunities, but they just lost the team’s defensive leader. More importantly, they lost the player who I would argue is the heart and soul of this team. He took firm hold of a leadership role after Justin Smith and Patrick Willis retired. Now, he is done for the year, and the 49ers will look to other players for leadership.

The team does have defensive leaders, with Eric Reid, Antoine Bethea, Quinton Dial, and others able to pick up the slack in that regard. But this is a tough punch to the stomach for a team that is already in the middle of the rebuilding process.

Had Bowman not gotten hurt and the team managed to beat the Cowboys, I think we would have seen spirits pretty high heading into a key divisional matchup. Instead, the 49ers blew a 14-point lead, and lost arguably their most critical leader. A win and the injury would have hurt, a loss and no injury would have hurt, but couple them together, and it is possible this team is teetering on a cliff.

I don’t think the loss and the injury mean the 49ers are going to suddenly tank the season. But things could go south in a hurry, particularly when you factor in a passing game that could very well get more frustrating with its inconsistency.

When you look at all of this together here at the quarter mark of the season, it’s easy to get pessimistic about how this season will play out. The 49ers could very well surprise us, but for now, we’re left to wait and wonder how they respond to this significant adversity.