With the season finally over, 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman has had a chance to look back on it and acknowledge he came a long way.
After missing all of the 2014 season with a severe knee injury that required surgery and extensive rehabilitation, Bowman came back in 2015 in a remarkable way. The 27-year-old inside linebacker led the NFL in tackles with 154 and played the second-most snaps of any 49ers defensive player (behind only safety Eric Reid). He also was selected for the Pro Bowl.
But Bowman wasn’t satisfied. He knows he lacked the quickness he had before the injury and he was still regaining his strength. Against his own measurements, he still wasn’t the player he was in the 2013 season, when he was a candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
“I had several missed tackles this year where I felt I could have made them but I didn’t,” he told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. Knowing that he can be better – while also acknowledging the support of his teammates and coaches – is a motivator for 2016. He says it will “continue to drive me to fight throughout the year.”
He says his workout regimen this offseason will be rigorous. He wants to be at his best to help the 49ers rebound from a 5-11 record.
“I’ve put the pressure on myself to go into this offseason and get back to the form I was once at,” he told Tyler Emerick, a writer for the team’s website. “The body will be put through a tremendous workout every single day.”
Bowman, who is signed through 2018 with the 49ers, says he’ll “give it 110 percent every time I step on the field.”
This will be a transitional offseason for the 49ers as they look for a new head coach, new staff of assistants and do some remaking of the roster. The defense will need to add other impact players around Bowman. But general manager Trent Baalke is at least certain about one thing: Bowman is an elite player again.
“For him to come back and play the number of snaps he played week in and week out and to see him get better with each outing, that’s a tip of the cap to him,” Baalke told Emerick. “What can you say? This is a man’s game and he’s a man.”