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What NaVorro Bowman release means for 49ers linebacker depth chart

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The 49ers lose considerable depth, but still have some options.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers have released linebacker NaVorro Bowman, and that simplifies the linebacker depth chart considerably. Rookie Reuben Foster is working his way back from a high ankle sprain, and with Ray-Ray Armstrong’s emergence as a solid option at weak side linebacker, the 49ers can simplify their approach.

Foster was initially playing the WILL linebacker role, with Armstrong replacing him after injury. John Lynch said the plan is to move Foster to the MIKE role when he returns. He was brought in to eventually fill that role, so Bowman’s departure was somewhat inevitable.

The downside to this move now is that the 49ers don’t know if Foster will be available this Sunday. He is back at practice, but his role for Sunday is still questionable. The team has an open roster spot, and if he cannot go this week, or is limited in any respect, look for the team to add more linebacker depth. In the meantime, Brock Coyle, Mark Nzeocha, and Elijah Lee all will get a chance to rotate in. Once Foster is fully healthy, those three will play primarily special teams, but will be available as reserves at MIKE and WILL.