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John Lynch: NaVorro Bowman moving around well, but there will be real competition

The 49ers GM talked about the team’s linebacker position.

The San Francisco 49ers return to the facilities in four weeks, and that will begin the next phase in NaVorro Bowman’s comeback from his torn Achilles. This marks the second major leg injury Bowman has suffered in the past three years.

Bowman got full reps in at the offseason workout program, but that has not stopped the speculation about his future. There was a brief trade rumor the 49ers stamped out. Additionally, the team drafted Reuben Foster and signed Malcolm Smith. Although they both will likely be competing for weak-side linebacker time next to Bowman, the team will have some things to figure out when they move into their more prevalent sub-packages.

General manager John Lynch was on KNBR earlier this week, and he offered up some thoughts on how Bowman has looked thus far. He also talked about the competition at the linebacker position, and it will be an interesting group. Ray-Ray Armstrong is an intriguing one in this group. He got a modest contract extension last fall. It means nothing to a new group, but he’s a guy with all sorts of physical tools. He has been inconsistent, but got a chance at a starting job last year before he got hurt. Could he surprise us in training camp and the preseason?

I know the history just like everybody else does — he’s come back from two really tough injuries to come back from and be at full speed — but I can tell you we’ve been very pleasantly surprised with the way he’s moving around out here. And then you wonder, ok — I always remember NaVorro as a 3-4 linebacker, a guy who’s at his best when he’s blitzing the quarterback and all these things, not that that’s not part of this scheme, but we’re going to be asking him to do a lot of backing up in zone coverage, and then go attack — like, is that going to fit his skills, and he’s making a real strong case for himself by the way he’s working out here, by the way he’s leading out here, and we’re excited.

That’s going to be a real competitive position, I think when you throw he, Malcolm Smith, Reuben Foster, and Ray-Ray Armstrong, that stack linebacker, Brock Coyle’s another guy who’s done it up in Seattle. So, NaVorro’s really having a great offseason, and he’s gotta continue that in the preseason. We expect to play him. He’ll get some vet days as a guy who needs some days off during camp, but I think the schedule takes care of that itself these days. It’s not like it’s two-a-days anymore, it’s a grind. They take care of these guys pretty well. We’ll take care of him, and he’ll be playing in preseason. We need to see what we have as a team, and NaVorro’s a part of that, and we’re excited to have him.