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49ers were always going to cut NaVorro Bowman

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The 49ers can say it had to do with Bowman’s issues about playing time, but his decline is real, even if it’s hard to accept.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch spent time talking about the NaVorro Bowman release on Friday, and of particular interest were his comments about what transpired shortly before the move was made.

Lynch noted that Bowman had a problem with the reduced playing time, hence the trade talks, but that Bowman’s agent eventually came back and said he’d be a “good soldier to remain on the team. In other words: Bowman wouldn’t raise a fuss and would do his job.

“And I will tell you, just so everyone's clear, at some point I think Drew came back and said, listen, he'll acquiesce, he'll come and publicly state that he's willing to live with whatever,” Lynch said of his conversation with Bowman’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

But the 49ers claimed that it was clear things were already trending in that direction following Bowman’s issues with his reduced role, and that once trade talks began, a release was imminent.

“But, having been through that myself, once you're there, mentally, people feel it in the building,” Lynch said. “And I think I truly do, and some people are going to question whether this is, but I truly do feel it's best for us and I truly do feel it's best for Bo.”

I don’t particularly buy that line of thinking, but I do think it’s perhaps the most graceful way for the 49ers to cut Bowman while at least making an effort to help him find a job with another franchise. The thought that a team would hear a player’s concerns and ultimately decide that a relationship is irreparable is kind of silly, even if, as Lynch said, maybe they felt this way all along.

But it makes the decision sound even somewhat amicable and I don’t think Bowman comes off as having raised a huge stink. It sounds more like the 49ers having a vision that was beginning to be compromised, and they moved on. Teams in the future should feel secure in signing Bowman, though his deals will likely need to be incentive-laden from here on out.

His play wasn’t abysmal, but it was lacking. His range of motion was down, and he dove for many more tackles than usual. The angles he took were always good, but the older version of Bowman simply can’t attack those angles like he used to. His play was not high enough for how much he’s earning, and the 49ers were always going to move on from him sooner or later.

They simply opted for sooner. I don’t know if you can find a bigger Bowman fan than myself, so I personally am pretty sad this is how things turned out. But I definitely saw it coming, and though I think most of what Lynch and Kyle Shanahan said is iffy at best, the overall belief that it’s better for both sides is probably true.