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NaVorro Bowman on defensive comfort, knowing assignments, ILB competition

The San Francisco 49ers defensive leader discussed the 49ers ILB competition, and how communication needs to work with players around him. We’ve got a full transcript, and you can view video here.

On where defense is and if they’re getting more comfortable with the system:

We are. And you can you see that we’re starting to talk a lot more. You know, when you first start off, guys don’t want to be wrong, and it’s really quiet out there, and guys just worry about their jobs. But it takes a lot of communication to be good, to be at that level that we need to get to. And we’re definitely taking those steps.

On what changed between first series (TD allowed) and rest of game for first team:

Just to piggy-back on his question, it was guys just not understanding, in the NFL it’s team defense and you have a job to do, and then you go make that play. Some of the plays aren’t meant for you to make, and you become good when everyone understands that. It was just something minor, small, but caused a huge void in our defense. So, we learn from it and hopefully it doesn’t happen again.

On if there is point where he wants to know the other ILB starter:

No, not really. I think I communicate with all three guys about the same. So it’s just about me feeling comfortable, able to talk to them, them being able to listen. But there’s no rush to really find that out. Coach is going to put the best guy out there, and if the competition runs through the first game, then guys just have to deal with it. But it’s just about a line of communication, both guys just being on the same page.

On if it’s same with QB position:

You know, I don’t know. I’m on the defensive side, but, whoever it is, he has to be wiling to lead and step in there, just take control of the offense. We ask the quarterback to do a lot of things. He’s the guy on the offense that everything runs through.

On if he’s tackle one of the robotic dummies:

No, I haven’t. Actually, don’t want to. One guy tried to do something on it, and it didn’t turn out well for him. So, I’m gonna leave the dummies alone. I’m gonna stay out of it.

On what didn’t go well:

He tried to tackle the robot, robot tackled him, I think.

On what 3rd preseason game means:

Uh, you know, nothing … still preseason. I think it’s just about you. As a player internally, just making sure that you understand what the coaches want you to do, and most of all, you kinda want to get those study habits together. Just watching a little bit of tape of what they did in the previous two preseason games, and try to pick up on something. Because you know, it’s just a copy-cat league, it runs back and forth. You just have to study, and be able to pick up on those things. It makes you a better player if you know what’s coming.

On when he starts studying the Rams:

See that’s the hard thing. They’re not gonna do what they’re doing in preseason in regular season. So the first game is really the hardest. You don’t really know what either team is going to do. You just have to go out there and be ready, and remember certain things that the coach tried to prepare you for. They pretty much have a better idea of what teams are going to do the first game than the players.

On if not playing behind Arik Armstead in the preseason is an issue:

Yea, I mean, I’d be lying if I said it would be better for him to not be out there. Because that’s something that both levels have to get used to who you’re playing with. He’s definitely been it, with his mind, now he’s back out there participating, but it’s better to have him out there. So, hopefully he gets it going.

On importance of body language and tendencies of defensive linemen:

It’s huge. Running backs can make a cut on a dime. So, we have to be on the same page, linebackers and the defensive line because we as linebackers have to be able to cut just like a running back. So if there’s any type of miscommunication or “I thought he was gonna be there” or anything like that, it can go for a long run. So we definitely need to spend a lot of time together.

On where he is entering third preseason game:

We know that, in the third preseason game, we play a lot more as starters. So I’ll kinda get that mindset of a real game going. And just continue to nail down this defense. And then try to take it the next level with understanding that my job’s done, and now I can make plays or go help out on some coverages that I’m really not assigned for, and that’s how you make plays. Just keep trying to get to that point where I’m comfortable.

On long TD run against Broncos and if that was issue of miscommunication:

Yea, it was just, a guy just not understanding that it’s team defense. And that’s defense. Unless it’s man-to-man, when the ball’s ran, us eight guys in the box, we’re playing as a team. Everyone’s supposed to do a specific thing, and usually when a guy doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do, something like that happens.

On Chris Davis and his first team work:

Yea, he’s a player. He’s aggressive, and Jim O’Neil has a lot of special things for that position, to put him in spots to make plays. I like what I’m seeing out of Chris. I definitely think he’ll be a contributor this year.

On potentially playing with multiple guys:

Yea, I’m fine. You know, it’s early. We’ve got to find the right formula, right group of guys. It’s just part of the process. I’m able to help, or give some insight on what to expect from offenses, so it’s not a bad thing.