SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

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Bowman's Goal: Come Back Strong, Win NFL Defensive Honor

Niners linebacker likely to miss start of 2014 season, but he wants to come back strong and eventually win NFL Defensive Player of the Year award that eluded him in 2013

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Niners linebacker NaVorro Bowman is eager to get back on the field in 2014. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    There are questions about when 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman will be able to play again.

    But there certainly are none about Bowman’s desire to come back as strong – or stronger – from the knee injury he suffered late in the NFC Championship Game against Seattle in January.

    In an interview with Bill Willamson of ESPN.com Thursday, Bowman said he wants to win the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award that many believed he deserved in 2013.

    “I’m going to come back and (win it)),” Bowman told Williamson. “I thought I should have won it last year, but last year is gone. But it has put some fire in my body.”

    Bowman suffered torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his knee  – while stripping the ball from a Seattle ballcarrier on a late, goal-line play – and was originally projected to be back on the active roster in 2014 some time about midseason. He told Williamson that’s still the target, although he said he’s been told by his doctors he’s ahead of schedule.

    Recently, he made an autograph-signing appearance in Concord and showed everyone he’s back on his feet.

    “Look at me, I’m walking,” he told Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group. “So, that’s good enough, man. I’m not really thinking about practice or anything. I’m happy to be walking and happy to be able to play again.”

    Bowman is going through rehab in Miami this offseason with the same trainer who helped Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rebound from a similar injury, Corkran reported.

    As eager as Bowman is to get back on the field, he says he’s not going to rush it. At 26, he still has a long career in front of him and wants to come back at full strength to be able to play the way he did in 2013 when he was the best player on the 49ers defense.

    “I’m always looking at the bigger picture,” Bowman told Corkran. “I’m young and I know I still have a lot of football left in me. So, all I have to do is get my knee back feeling good, if not better than it was. Then I’ll be fine.”