NaVorro freaking Bowman. While it certainly made sense to part ways with the San Francisco 49ers linebacker, he made for some dynamic explosive plays combined with a calm, gentle attitude off the field. What was there not to like?
So we tried the impossible, we tried to narrow down the top 10 greatest moments of NaVorro Bowman on the 49ers. We know for a fact we screwed this list up — Bowman is too good to have 10 highlights better than the rest. Things to keep in mind, this isn’t just highlights, but moments of Bowman we certainly remember during his tenure with the 49ers. We tried our best to organize everything we could, but let us know in the comments what you remember from Bowman.
Oh wait, we need music for this, don’t we? Put this on in a different window. Now we’re ready to go.
10. Annoying the 1-2 Man
This is fondly remembered for those who had the pleasure of finding/seeing it. In 2012, after beating the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium, the 49ers traveled to Seattle in a Sunday Night Football contest against the Seattle Seahawks. This was around the time Seattle remembered it had a football team which meant the fans were more belligerent than usual.
The game was a disaster with 49ers getting blown out early. The 1-2 man would use this as an argument for how great they were even though they lost in the playoffs while the 49ers went to the Super Bowl.
“Oh we’re better because we beat the 49ers in the regular season.” Remember that argument?
While they usually owned Jim Harbaugh in Seattle, at the time it was pretty ridiculous rhetoric. Especially since they lost to the 49ers in Seattle the year before. Anyways, this minor gesture just turned to absolute awesomeness.
9. Destroying Ahmad Bradshaw (2011-2012 NFC Championship Game)
The 49ers turned in a stinker on offense in their return to the post season in who knows how many years, but the defense had Eli Manning rattled from the get-go. If the QB can’t throw, hand the ball off. Well, Bowman made sure that wouldn’t work either:
We all know how this game ended, but I still want to see this hit once a week.
8. NaVorro Bowman’s Draft
The 2010 draft yielded a good group of picks that would go on to be starters when the Jim Harbaugh era got going. Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, and later NaVorro Bowman would be taken in the 3rd round. Given the production he had from the 49ers, this would be a steal of a pick. Attempts to find video of the analysts for his draft didn’t manage much besides an AC/DC highlight reel. However, here’s video of Bowman recalling his draft experience:
7. Return to the Field (Week 1, 2015)
Following a nasty knee injury (oh, we’ll get to that), Bowman sat out the entire 2014 campaign and returned for Week 1 with the Minnesota Vikings in 2015. When he took the field, he had little rust and possibly could be the man going forward with Patrick Willis retiring in the offseason. As we know, that didn’t work out. Seeing Bowman back on the field after that knee injury, or injuries was still heartfelt.
6. Wrecking Havoc on the Arizona Cardinals (Week 17, 2012-2013)
Bowman has always been Kryptonite for the Cardinals during the Jim Harbaugh era, but in the final game of the 2013 season, he made Carson Palmer look like someone in little league; batting or plucking balls out of the air and getting in the Cardinals quarterback’s grill to say “hi” on more than one occasion. Here’s a video of a sack and here’s a pick.
5. Picking Off Aaron Rodgers (Week 1, 2012)
Aaron Rodgers doesn’t throw picks. At least, that’s what everyone says. Say what you want about the Green Bay Packers quarterback, one thing is certain is he’s not reckless with the football. Especially in Green Bay.
That is, until he ran into Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers. The Packers were considered one of the best teams in the league going into the 2012 season while the 49ers defense was considered flat scary. The replacement refs’ terrible play calls didn’t help much for either side—but a lot of the points the Packers managed was by this horrible officiating.
Leading 23-15, in the 4th, the 49ers set up to stop the epic comebacks the Packers are known for, then this happened (call from Ted Robinson):
There’s an I-set behind Rodgers, a play fake and he drops to throw. Looking up the middle throws it up the middle—INTERCEPTED BY BOWMAN! NaVorro Bowman with the pick and he spins his way down to the 45 of Green Bay!
The 49ers handed the ball off to Frank Gore on the very next play who charged around the Packers defense and literally moon-walked into the endzone. The pick and resulting score sealed the game for the 49ers keeping any theatrics from the Packers from occurring.
4. Kap’s Fast! (2012 NFC Divisional)
This is in here for the sole reason of seeing Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman side by side. This video is a mic’d up segment during the 2012 NFC Divisional where Patrick Willis does all sorts of awesome. There’s a few points where you see him standing next to Bowman, and the two are just having some sort of conversation. There’s one where Willis tells Bowman he’s [Willis] one of the worst blockers in America, and Bowman appears to be arguing with him on the point. There’s another where Willis has a moment of clarity after Colin Kaepernick breaks off the memorable run to the endzone after faking a handoff. The moment? He tells Bowman that Kaepernick is fast. All Bowman can do is nod.
3. The Beginning of the End (2013 NFC Championship Game)
As sad and sickening as this was, it’s amazing what he did during the play. Near the goal line, the Seattle Seahawks were chiping yards away to get into the endzone. To stop this, Bowman stood Jermaine Kearse up and ripped the ball out of his hands. Unfortunately, right after, Eric Reid came tumbling in, and made Bowman’s knee bend a way it’s not intended to. You can watch the video here, but you’re warned: it’s pretty depressing. Needless to say, Bowman fell to the ground, and players from both teams screamed for trainers to hit the field.
Oh, he went to the ground with the ball in his hands, mind you. Strip, San Francisco ball?
Um, no. Leave it to the NFL refs to mess this up and give possession back to Seattle. Luckily, the 49ers would get another shot at ripping the ball out of the Seahawks’ hands. Unfortunately, we all know how that ended.
Bowman would go on to miss the entire 2014 season, Jim Harbaugh’s last, and returned in 2015 to kick off the shortly lived Jim Tomsula coaching regime.
2. The Bat (2012 NFC Championship Game)
Wasn’t the 2012 NFC Championship Game bad for the hearts of 49ers fans? This manic-depressing, joyous game led to the 49ers mounting an epic comeback, one they failed at making the entire regular season, and one that sent them to the Super Bowl. After finally (and it really was a FINALLY) getting the lead in the 4th quarter, the Atlanta Falcons (who were scoreless for the second half after taking the 49ers defense to the woodshed in the first) started mounting a comeback. It was what a 49er fan would expect: bending, bending, a blown call treating us to a Jim Harbaugh tantrum, bending, and more bending.
The Falcons needed a touchdown to regain the lead and were led to 4th down. It was the play to decide the game. Here’s the Ted Robinson call:
It all comes to this 4th down. 4th and four at the San Francisco 10. [Matt] Ryan in a shotgun, [Jacquizz] Rodgers to his left, three receivers right. Ryan takes the snap, looking, looking, pressure throws middle—BROKEN UP! BROKEN UP! BY N-NAVARRO BOWMAN! THE 49ERS HAVE HELD! THE 49ERS HAVE HELD!
Everyone then went nuts.
1. The Pick at the ‘Stick (Week 16, 2013)
Picking numbers for all of this didn’t require much thought until the Top 3, but if you didn’t think this would make number one, you’re crazy. Yeah, you don’t need me explaining this one, I’ll let the below video do the talking, but let’s get some background:
The 49ers needed one win in the final two games to secure a playoff spot. This was partly thanks to a terrible call in New Orleans where Ahmad Brooks was flagged for a hit on Drew Brees. That call reshaped the entire playoff picture that year.
Again against the Atlanta Falcons, whose fans got their hearts ripped out and stomped on by NaVorro Bowman last year (see Number 2), the Falcons were making life miserable for the 49ers. The offense began to show life towards the end of the game, managing a touchdown that led to an obvious onside kick. The hands team came in, the ball was kicked, and it bounced in and out of Bowman’s hands.
The defense came back and the Falcons began driving down the field. Then this happened:
This managed to be the final touchdown at Candlestick Park before it was demolished and also the touchdown that put the 49ers into the playoffs. The Pick at the ‘Stick was quickly coined by fans and was such an obvious name that it stuck.
So what got left out? Bowman was such a great player something got missed. Let us know below.