It was a mellow locker room the day after the loss to Dallas, and the news had just broken that the San Francisco 49ers defensive leader, NaVorro Bowman would be out for the season after rupturing his Achilles. I spoke to several players about how this would effect the team, and the defense in particular. The common thread is “Next man up” but the most positive aspect about everyone’s comments is that there is no doubt that Bowman will be back.
That’s a horrible loss. We hope he comes back healthy, take as long as he needs to take. He was one of the leaders of the defense. Everybody knows who NaVorro Bowman is so he’s always one of the guys that they game plan [for] so losing him on the defense, it’s horrible, but as far as our mindset, it’s not going to change if he was on the defense or if he wasn’t on the defense. We’re still going to go out there, play our defense. We’re going to miss him but now we just gotta play for him.
He’s the leader of our defense and him being out, it’s a big blow to us, but the next man has to step up. I feel for him, pray for him, I know he’s bounced back from injury before, so I’ll be excited for him to bounce back from this one too. He’s done it before and obviously he knows what it takes to come back from a tough injury.
It’s a tough loss, he’s a great player and he'll always be someone we can go to if we have any questions. The next man just has to step up and just keep playing defense, keep playing ball. I believe in everyone we have, everyone wouldn’t be here just for that reason. Bowman is just a great player, all in all, great leader, someone you can always count on. It’s a tough loss but we’ll keep moving.
He’s a leader in this locker room and more importantly on the field. He’s someone that we all look up to. He’s a fighter, he’ll be back from this but we have to be ready to step in, in the meantime. We just have to look at what he can do out there and play our best ball. Obviously we’ll have to rally together, things will be different maybe defensively, we just have to kind of overcome him not being in there and we just have to step up. It’s time for guys like myself, the linebacking room as a whole to step up.
[His influence] has been big. Whether it’s been Pat my first year when NaVorro was hurt and now NaVorro, guys with that kind of talent and that kind of knowledge obviously are always going to have things to teach guys. Sometimes it’s vocal and sometimes you just kind of watch and learn as he does something. His approach and his preparation, it makes your decision making that much easier when you’ve put in the time and really learned what to look for as a linebacker. You figure out how to sort through film and really pick up pieces here and there, that’s what I’ve learned from him.
It’s tough, but Bow is very resilient, he’s tough and he’s been there before so I’m sure he’ll bounce back. It’s tough because I know, we all know, how hard he’s worked to bounce back from his last injury and it’s just a minor setback for him to come back and prove folks wrong again.
When asked if there is any doubt he will be back, Torrey Smith replied, “No doubt at all.”