After an outstanding college career at Penn State that included tying the Rose Bowl record tackles for a loss with 5, Bowman was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He’d close out his rookie season by making a big impression on his coaches and fans, playing all 16 games.
Solidly in his second year, Bowman stood out by leading the 49ers in tackles with 143, which put him runner-up in the league. Bowman was also named to the Associated Press’ First-Team All-Pro.
After helping the 49ers finish second in the NFC, Bowman was once again named to First-Team All-Pro in 2012. But this year, the affable linebacker went one better, also being selected to his first ever Pro Bowl.
In the Divisional Round of the 2012 playoffs, the 49ers steamrolled past an always formidable Green Bay thanks—in a large part—to Bowman’s six tackles and two pass break-ups.
With one pivotal minute left to play in the 2012 NFC Championship against Atlanta, Bowman stopped what looked to be a come-from-behind victory for the Falcons by deflecting Matt Ryan’s pass to teammate Roddy White, sealing the 49ers down-to-the-wire win and a trip to Super Bowl XLVII.
Sure, Super Bowl XLVII is a game the 49ers and its fans would probably like to forget with the hometown heroes losing by just three points to the Ravens. But despite the crushing loss, Bowman’s nine tackles stood out and boded well for the future of the franchise.
After a solid season was cut just shy of another Super Bowl berth with a loss to arch rivals Seattle in the NFC Championship game (not to mention suffering an ACL and MCL tear in his left knee), Bowman nonetheless closed out his 2013 campaign with his head held high, finishing fifth in the league for tackles with 145 and earning his third First-Team All-Pro honors.
Coming into the Wild Card Round of the 2013 playoffs in a frigid Green Bay, Bowman helped the 49ers blast past the Super Bowl XLV Champs with 10 tackles and one forced fumble.
The 49ers total domination of the Carolina Panthers in the 2013 Divisional Round was due largely to Bowman’s clutch performance. With the NFC Championship game in his sites, the indomitable linebacker lead the team with 11 tackles and one crucial sack to defeat the Panthers 23-10.
For all his big stats and stellar plays, it was Bowman’s final performance in Candlestick Park that sealed his status among 49ers legends. With one minute left to play, Bowman intercepted Atlanta’s Matt Ryan’s pass and returned it for an 89-yard touchdown.