After losing all of 2014 to a knee injury, 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman came back strong in 2015.
It was obvious he wasn’t quite the player he had been – his speed and lateral movement weren’t quite as dynamic as in 2013, when he was among the best inside linebackers in the NFL.
Still, Bowman’s return was one of the pluses to a bad 2015. Bowman started all 16 games, was in on 154 tackles, had 2½ sacks and forced a fumble.
To Bowman, it was a season to build on. With a strong offseason under his belt, he believes he’ll be back in 2016 to being the dominant defensive player he was before his injury. He’s ready to start proving it in July with the opening of training camp and the exhibition season.
“I feel great,” Bowman, 28, told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group recently. “I’m adding on days on top of days (of workouts). I feel it sometimes, but it’s nowhere near what I went through last year, with the constant attention I had to put on it. This year, I’n able to wake up and ride.”
Recently, Bowman was left off the NFL Network’s list of top 100 current players, and also didn’t make the list of top 101 players put together by the analytic website Pro Football Focus.
PFF wrote that Bowman “was a shadow of himself” in 2015, particularly against the pass.
“The 49er was actually still very good against the run in 2015,” wrote PFF. “He led all linebackers in both tackles and stops by a significant margin, but his play fell away in coverage, where he allowed 90.3 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught and a passer rating of 110.9 when targeted.
“Bowman at his best was a complete linebacker, but the player of 2015 was far more one-dimensional. If he rediscovers the rest of his play this year, he will jump back onto the (top 101) list.”
Bowman, meanwhile, is completely confident in what he can do at his position.
“I’m an inside linebacker and know I’m at the top of that,” he said. “Anyone that’s (better) than me at that list at inside linebacker, you’ve got to put a question mark by it.”