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49ers’ NaVorro Bowman needs meaningful preseason snaps, and that’s a concern

Bowman has played in the preseason before. But now he HAS to, and that’s a real concern.

I feel like there has been an inordinate amount of speculation about San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman potentially getting cut, losing his job or simply not being very good anymore.

It’s not something I can disprove or anything like that, but Bowman’s level of play has been so high throughout his career that I can’t help but personally feel he’ll still be an elite linebacker going forward.

As we go into training camp, we should be hearing plenty about Bowman, rookie first-round pick Reuben Foster and free agent addition Malcolm Smith. They are, ostensibly, battling for one starting spot, with the second-best of the three getting the other outside spot.

John Lynch said in June that he expects Bowman to play during the preseason and while Bowman has never been “exempt” from the preseason per se, it did make me realize that the possibility of him not being a starter is very real. I’m not ready to buy in on the notion yet, but in year’s past, Bowman has been the kind of player you don’t need to see in the preseason.

Bowman is recovering from an Achilles tear, has had multiple seriously debilitating injuries and is learning a new position at 29 years of age. I don’t know if his “slide” is exaggerated, imagined or completely real, but it does have me a little worried.

I’ll be excited to see Bowman playing in the preseason, but the fact that he’ll likely be doing so quite a lot is a concern. Strong linebacker play has been one of the few constants for the 49ers, even through the huge injuries (to an extent) and I expect Foster to be part of that in the future.

I’m just not sure the Bowman era is quite at its end.