The San Francisco 49ers did their best to battle the Rams on Thursday Night Football but 147 snaps in five days is a lot to ask of a player. NaVorro Bowman is the only defensive player who played all 147. Dontae Johnson and Rashard Robinson both played 145, Ray Ray Armstrong was in for 134 and Jaquiski Tartt played 129.
Bowman, who along with Dekoda Watson and Earl Mitchell are the most senior (8th season) on the defense outside of Elvis Dumervil who has four more years under his belt. Watson played 29 snaps, mostly on special teams, Dumervil was in for 32 and Mitchell played 99.
The original plan for Bowman seemed to have him come off the field when the defense went with their dime package, with Malcolm Smith staying in. Smith going on season ending IR changed everything. Bowman now stays in on dime and Armstrong goes out.
Bowman told NBC Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco on Wednesday that the extra rest has made a world of difference for the linebacker.
I feel great. I feel 100 times better. I feel like we’ve had time to rest up and play a full 60-minute game.
Bowman also explained adjusting to a new scheme:
From myself, it’s just getting back in the flow. It’s been a while, so this being my third game, understanding the scheme and trying to absorb the offense have been my biggest challenges; trying to do those two things at once. And I feel like I’m getting more comfortable.
While Bowman and Armstrong lead the team with 20 tackles, they both also have five missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. Simply to the naked eye Bowman didn't have a good game facing the Rams. Why will he have a better game in Arizona? Not only is he rested, the Cardinals offensive line will be without former 49ers Mike Iupati and Alex Boone. LT D.J. Humphries, however, could return.
Cardinals are also without David Johnson, leaving Chris Johnson to start. Bowman is familiar with Johnson, as well as veteran Larry Fitzgerald, who he knows the Cardinals depend on. With two games so within reach, the 49ers are due for a few balls to bounce their way. It feels like a victory ripe for the taking.