The San Francisco 49ers are overhauling their defense, both in terms of personnel and scheme, but there is a lot of optimism about the group. The team has invested considerable assets in the defensive line, landing a potentially game-changing linebacker at the back end of the the third round, and has some intriguing options in the secondary.
One person thinks the linebacker depth chart should get a more serious shake-up. Bleacher Report NFL writer Sean Tomlinson went through each team and assessed the biggest risk they are taking in 2017. For the 49ers, the writer said giving NaVorro Bowman “any sort of meaningful role” is an unnecessary risk for the 49ers. He thinks the 49ers can avoid the risk by simply releasing Bowman and moving Reuben Foster into the starting lineup.
Tomlinson pointed to the injuries Bowman has suffered as a big reason to move on. Bowman tore up his knee in January 2014, and then tore his Achilles in 2016. He linked to Grant Cohn’s article earlier this month where the 49ers beat writer said Bowman was finished, and pointed out how Bowman was beat in coverage by Garrett Celek during OTAs.
It remains to be seen how Bowman will look in pads when things really get going. Cutting Bowman right now before you see what he can do with pads on would be absurd. I don’t know how many years Bowman has left, and he could very well be out of the league sooner rather than later. But I don’t see how this is a significant risk given the state of the 49ers rebuilding project.
If I were to point to a risk, it would be the lack of a significant overhaul to the offensive line. At this point in a rebuilding effort, I don’t think there are any truly big risks. But if we had to list one, I’d say the lack of significant investment in the group might qualify as a risky decision.