When the San Francisco 49ers released NaVorro Bowman a few weeks into the 2017 season, you could hear the collective gasp from the fanbase. Despite one gruesome knee injury, and later an achilles rupture, Bowman continued to be the heart and soul of the 49ers, holding the team together with the departures of Frank Gore and Patrick Willis. Bowman signed with the Oakland Raiders not too long after his release, contributed on their defense almost immediately and went into 2018 a free agent.
And now, one year later, Bowman remains unsigned. It was a bit concerning to not see him snapped up when free agency began, but understandable for a veteran with Bowman’s to come in long after training camp begins. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to assume he may catch onto a team on their way to a 53 man roster. He’s had some visits, but as we are now into Week 2 of the 2018 NFL season and there’s nary a word.
Keep in mind, this is the guy who combined with Patrick Willis to make two of the best middle linebackers in the NFL for multiple years. A three-time Pro Bowler. Teams should want Bowman, right?
Well, not now, perhaps.
The Bowman decision was polarizing with fans. Some knew he wasn’t in the long-term plans of John Lynch/Kyle Shanahan and felt it best he be released. Others wondered if the release, as well as the events leading up to the release were the correct decisions. Bowman began getting less playing time as Robert Saleh’s 4-3 defense demanded a different style of play than Bowman was used to. Once Bowman got frustrated, the 49ers did him a favor.
Now the 49ers have Reuben Foster (who returns in Week 3) and Fred Warner as the new linebacking duo. Warner has already drawn comparisons to Bowman, so it’s safe to say the 49ers may not be looking back.
Steve Young said that Bill Walsh would have a philosophy of getting players off the team a year before it was too late. It’s been documented that this rubbed several players the wrong way, but it was also necessary to maintain a competitive roster. Given that Bowman remains unsigned into 2018, do you think it corroborates the 49ers decision to release him?