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NaVorro Bowman on Todd Gurley: “He’s a cool dude”

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The 49ers linebacker met with the media Friday to talk about his preparation for Todd Gurley, being further removed from his knee injury, and his thoughts on the national anthem protests. Watch video here.

Opening:

Yeah, I’m excited. You know finally started feeling normal again, and just trying to play my best. It’s what it all comes down to. Now that the knee’s behind me, for the most part, I’m able to focus on getting my body and being prepared for the game.

You get even more fired up when you know all the talk is about the running back on the other team?

I do, I do. It’s basically running backs pay attention to the linebackers just as well as wide receivers pay attention to the cornerbacks. That’s our common matchup throughout the game. They are going to see us, as linebackers and we know we’re going to see him. Just have to be prepared, understand they look at him high. You guys think of him as a high-rate running back so you know, it’s our job as a defense to come out ready to play and stop him.

You talked about that year away where you really studied the game and really tried to take it to that next level. So how do you change your preparation? What do you do leading up to a game like this when you look at a gut runner?

Really just saying if he likes going downhill or if he likes bouncing it out, what type of holes he likes to get to on certain plays. Things like that, all those things can tell you something about a play or a player, all those things go into my film work. I definitely don’t have the time I had when I wasn’t playing to study. I just try to look at everything as a coach and if you do that, you should be prepared.

You ever feel any pressure to protest against the National Anthem on Monday night?

No I don’t. I plan on doing the same thing I’ve been doing. Just try to focus on football and get the wins.

You heard if any of your teammates are going to join Eric [49ers safety Eric Reid] or Colin [49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick]

No one has talked about it. I feel like that’s a personal issue and guys have done a great job of keeping it personal. No one has said anything if a guy did decide to take a knee. We’re just staying focused on what’s important and that’s winning games.

What do you like about having Gerald Hodges as a linebacker next to you?

A lot. He’s a very intense football player. He’s smart, he’s fast, he understands the game. And he went to Penn State [note: Bowman’s Alma mater is Penn State]. Gotta get the Nittany Lions out there together. He’s done a great job throughout camp. I feel like the battle is still there, the coaches are just looking for a guy who’s going to take it.

Case Keenum does not have a ton of tape on him on running what this offense does. How is it trying to prepare for what he might do?

It’s a little different. But he got a lot of snaps in preseason. We understand how he likes to run the operation. That helps us up front, getting off the ball and things like that. But you really just have to go out there and be technique-sound and make the plays that come to you.

What are you expecting from him?

Really get the ball out quick. Not knowing exactly what we are going to do on defense. So getting the ball out quick, trying to get a long read on the defense, see if they’ll give away a few blitzes. That’s the discipline you have to have on defense; just holding your disguise so quarterbacks can’t get a tip on what you want to do.

Just like you’re feeling better a year after your injury, do you expect [Los Angeles Rams running back Todd] Gurley to be more explosive given a similar situation?

I do. I expect him to feel a lot better than he did the year he came in and that’s the reason he’s looked like he is. He did what he did coming off an injury, imagine if he has a year under his belt. I’m sure he’s coming in excited just like I was after my knee injury.

Did you talk to him at all?

I talked to him this offseason. He’s a cool dude. Just always good to know guys have respect for you throughout the league. Any insider help I could give him I did for his injury.