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49ers roster breakdown, 90-in-90: NaVorro Bowman

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Today we turn our attention to NaVorro Bowman

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman celebrates after the 49ers recovered an onside kick at Levi’s Stadium
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Each year, we run a series of posts called “90-in-90” here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we’ll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, the roster will change, and some days we’ll have more than one so it’s not strictly one per day but you get the idea.

49ers All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman remains the heart and soul of the San Francisco 49ers defense. San Francisco without Bowman finished dead last in a lot defensively, but notably allowed the most yard rushing in franchise history.

After Bowman sustained a tear to his Achilles tendon Week 4 against the Dallas Cowboys. He was one of many starters to miss significant time last year during a pretty miserable 2-14 season. It was his second major injury to to his left leg since the NFC Championship Game against the Seattle Seahawks, when he suffered a horrific torn ACL and MCL tears in his knee.

Bowman returned to mini-camp and based on initial reports, there are many reasons to be optimistic about his rehabilitation after suffering the Achilles tear last October. He boasted no supports or braces. Bowman showed no hesitation and pursuant to some conversations with those covering the 49ers beat, it did not appear he favored his left leg in any way. And, prior to his appearance at mini-camp, Bowman had this to say in January:

“I’m working, every single day, doing everything that the trainers are asking me to do. There’s no timetable set (for) when I’ll be cleared to do every single thing. But the sky’s looking bright for me. I feel great. The Achilles is definitely improving every single day and giving me confidence knowing that I will be back.”

Bowman turns 29 today and has stated the Achilles is far easier to deal with than his knee. Considering the largest difficulty with an Achilles tear is the mental impact and what he already went through missing the entire 2014 season recuperating from his knee injury, it is not much of a surprise that Bowman feels this way.

Basic info

Age: 29
Experience: 7 accrued seasons
Height: 6’0
Weight: 242 lbs

Cap status

Signed a four-year extension on top of three years existing on his last contract. He is due $6,750,000 in base salary this season, along with $750,000 in a per-game roster bonus. $2.6 million of his 2017 base salary has become fully guaranteed, and the team owes him $3.45 million in a 2018 option bonus.

Why he might improve in 2017

In 2016, he appeared in only four games before suffering the Achilles tear and going on injured reserve. Based on reports regarding his health and activities, it appears he is coming out of the rehab healthy. Further, in the change to the 4-3 defensive scheme, a good argument can be made it is a better system could lighten his load. Both Bowman and Patrick Willis were textbook examples at the Mike position. However, with talent acquired this season, including linebacker Reuben Foster, it should allow Bowman to do what he does best: regain All-Pro form.

Why he might regress in 2017

The biggest concern is to make sure the 49ers investment in the formidable leader on defense is to make sure Bowman stays as healthy as possible. Nobody can foretell the future and injuries are part of the game, but he is paramount to this defense and is a team leader. There has been some talk the Bowman was on the trading block, but John Lynch killed the story early on. He will have to learn Saleh’s system, but it should pose little to no concern for NaVorro Bowman.

Odds of making the roster

100 percent making the roster, with the exception of some Act of God.