"NaVorro Bowman is a big-time find," Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. said.
Bowman, a third-round choice in 2010, took over as the full-time starter when the 49ers lost Takeo Spikes to San Diego in free agency. Or, more accurately, the 49ers let the 34-year-old Spikes leave in free agency because they were confident Bowman, 23, was more than ready to take over the job.
"I was a huge Spikes fan and thought they were losing leadership, a great tackler, but Bowman is better," Williamson said. "He covers a ton of ground. He beats Patrick Willis to the ball at times. He goes in coverage and pursuit. I looked at him coming out of college as a 4-3 Will type guy, a run-and-hit linebacker who did not fit as well in the 3-4. But he has bulked up, he is stronger, he gets low, takes on blocks."
The moves San Francisco made on defense appear to be working out well.
Ray McDonald has flourished as a starting defensive end. The run defense has remained strong with Isaac Sopoaga moving to nose tackle after the team made no serious effort to re-sign Aubrayo Franklin. Carlos Rogers has been better at cornerback than Nate Clements, who was released. Coverage issues have persisted at times, but the situation at safety is better overall now that Dashon Goldson is back.