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NaVorro Bowman on thinking about his knee: “[Not] at all.”

The 49ers linebacker spoke to the media last week and talked about how his knee injury is truly behind him, the NFL Top 100, and the competition for who plays alongside him. You can see the full interview here.

Where do you think it’s at this point in the offseason during minicamp compared to the other minicamps you’ve been apart of.

I think we’re in a good spot. I think everyone understands and knows what coach is trying to accomplish. Got this break coming up and we just got to keep it in our heads, continue to think about it and not forget the things we’ve learned so far. I think we’re in a great spot, they’ve rotating so many guys but once we get back we’ll get the guys we’re used to playing with and be on the same page a lot more.

In terms of the process that you went with your knee before every day last year, how is it now?

Totally different, I feel great. Adding on days on top of days, I feel it sometimes but it’s nowhere near as what I went through last year with the constant attention I had to put on it. This year I can wake up and ride. So that’s definitely a better thing than last year.

Part of the conditioning. Chip said that he felt like this was better at this stage than when he was with Philadelphia at that stage. How much do you kind of set a tone for the rest of the linebackers the rest of the guys on defense to be in the right shape in order to get through those practices.

It’s all about embracing it. Not complaining or saying anything negative about it. Just embrace it. 90 other guys are out there doing it so you should just accept it and have that competitive nature inside you that drives you and let the coaches see that you don’t care what he throws at you, you’re gonna embrace it and try your best.

On NFL Network there is a listing of the top 100 players. You obviously know where you listed on that, what did you think of it?

I don’t like it. I’ve never seen a ballot or voted any player on that top 100 list. They say we vote for it, it’s totally bogus. I’m sure I’d be lower than 61 if the players really voted on it. So NFL 100 they can keep doing what they’re doing but it’s not accurate at all.

You mean better than 61?

Better than 61.

Where do you think you are?

I don’t know, I’ll leave that up to the players who actually play. You can ask around. I’ve never seen any player or heard any player say they voted for the NFL top 100. I remember I had something to do and couldn’t do an interview for it so maybe that’s why they put me at 61.

Is it motivation for you?

It’s always motivation anytime you don’t give me what I deserve I put it in the motivation box and try to prove them wrong. So yes.

Navarro you were talking about the conditioning for the overall defense. Is that even more important this year considering you have an offense that’s so uptempo that can be on and off the field you will be spending more time than normal out there?

Yeah I think all the guys are saying that on the defensive side that we’re probably going to be on the field a lot more. Just the tempo alone that we’ve been experiencing over these last few weeks. Like I said, it’s our job to embrace it, and like I said a few weeks ago I’ve never met a defensive guy that didn’t want to be on the field. It’s more plays more tackles. It’s going to work out. I think the offense is doing their job and we’re able to go out and play the lead, it’s better for us.

Are you at the point where you’re not thinking about your knee?

At all.

Last year at this time you had braces on, going out and stretching about two-four hours before practice.

Yeah, it’s nothing like that. I let many work on other guys now. Just come in and stretch and I’ll be ready for practice.

How freeing is that, you don’t have to worry about that?

It’s great the road is continuing to get better for me. I always knew it would, I just had to stay on top of it be disciplined continue to work through the things that the doctors told me would come up, you’d have this pain or this uncomfortableness a little bit down the road, but it’s definitely panning out to get back to feeling like the other knee.

So you expected this type of improvement in two years removed?

Yeah, I definitely did. I’m a hard worker. As long as I continue getting the muscle back strong around the knee, the knee is going to be fine.

All things considered is it miraculous you did as well as you did last year?

I think it was. I didn’t think I, you know I don’t know. I did what I was supposed to do, I worked very hard to understand the game. For me to get those accolades and be at the top of my game, but I know there’s much more I can do, and some plays I did leave out there on the field that I wouldn’t have done before the injury so that’s what I’m chasing. I’m chasing to have a better year than last year.

At this point last year could you have imagined you’d have led the league in tackles?

Not at all. That was a thing where I had a goal every single game and try to reach that goal and everything extra is extra. It’s about the solo tackles. That’s the category that really defines a linebacker I think. My number has been pretty high over the years so I try to keep it at that.

Do you think with your knee feeling better that will help you in coverage? Chasing around running backs and tight ends and such.

Yeah, definitely, like I said there were some plays left out there. All things considered, I did my best, but I’m still chasing to have a better year than I did last year.

Bringing up a sore subject, back to the NFL top 100, what is the highest you’ve ever ranked on it?

You know, I don’t know. But the most recent is 61. Just some guys that played two positions in front of me. I don’t know. I’m an inside linebacker, I know I’m at the top of that and anyone that lowers me on that list at inside linebacker, gotta put a question mark next to it.

What was the inspiration for the beard trim?

Oh you know just enjoying my summer. When training camp comes I won’t cut anything. I let it go because that’s what training camp’s about. You don’t care about anything but getting your game to the way it needs to be before the season. So leave the barber shop alone and focus on football. It’s summertime now, I’m headed to the barbershop now.

With the offseason over how do you access the battle to start next year between [49ers linebacker Michael] Wilhoite and [49ers linebacker Gerald] Hodges.

It’s tough. The battle will never be won without a helmet and shoulder pads. Just the condition alone is tough. Just being able to move with those things on you is a tough thing to do. So once that happens, you’ll start to see the competiveness really come out, see who can get to the ball fast and understand the defense a lot more with all the equipment on and things like that. It’s good to see that guys understand it’s a competition going on and they have been embracing it well.