Baalke Counters Reports That Bowman Won't Play

Niners GM says linebacker's rehab is going well and that he expects Bowman to be cleared to return for 2015 season

There’s been plenty of disappointing news for 49ers fans lately.

The retirement of Patrick Willis at age 30 was a blow, as was the loss of head coach Jim Harbaugh, running back Frank Gore and guard Mike Iupati.

But at least one piece of good news surfaced Wednesday when general manager Trent Baalke countered rumors that All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman might not play in 2015.

In fact, some reports indicated the 49ers were considering releasing Bowman because he hadn’t made enough progress to pass medical tests that would clear him to play in 2015.

But Wednesday, in speaking with Bay Area reporters at Levi’s Stadium, Baalke said Bowman is “at a real good place” in his recovery. Bowman missed all of 2014 after tearing two knee ligaments in the NFC Championship Game against the Seahawks in January of 2014. At first it was believed Bowman would return for the second half of the 2014 season. Then, when progress wasn’t as fast as hoped, Bowman was shut down for the entire year.

Baalke disputed the reports that Bowman hadn’t made progress or that it was a bad sign he never played in 2014.

“There was no setback at all,” Baalke said. “It was just a matter of what’s the best decision for him, long term, at that time. That’s the decision we made.”

Now Baalke says he expects Bowman to be ready to play in 2015.

“You can tell he’s working,” Baalke said, according to Paul Gutierrez of “I think he feels good. He’s really starting to feel like it’s coming back to where he wants it, and that’s always the most important thing.”

If Bowman indeed can come back to play at the level he was playing during the 2013 season – when some believed he was a candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year – it will be a huge boost for a team badly in need of some positives.

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