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Tuesday, November 27, 2012
49ers' to-do list lighter after Bowman deal

By Mike Sando

NaVorro Bowman has joined Daryl Washington and James Laurinaitis as NFC West inside linebackers with new contract extensions in 2012.

The San Francisco 49ers announced a five-year deal with Bowman after ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted that an agreement would be imminent. Bowman, who earned All-Pro honors as a first-year starter in 2011, is now signed through 2018.

This is fantastic news for 49ers fans fearful the team might not find the resources to keep two stars at inside linebacker. Perennial Pro Bowl choice Patrick Willis already received a big-money deal. Getting Bowman's deal done now, while he had another year on his contract, surely allowed San Francisco to get better value. Bowman, meanwhile, gets long-term security earlier than most players can command a lucrative second contract.

The 49ers have done a good job identifying their best players and extending those players' contracts. Left tackle Joe Staley, tight end Vernon Davis and Willis are among the players San Francisco retained in advance of free agency. Those players were first-round draft choices. Bowman's case was a little different because he was a third-round pick and therefore had not received money even close to commensurate with his contributions.

With Bowman signed, free safety Dashon Goldson stands out as the one highly productive player with an uncertain future. Goldson earned Pro Bowl honors in 2011 while playing on a one-year deal. The team named him its franchise player for 2012. That move gave Goldson a raise to $6.2 million. The team could use the tag on Goldson again for a 20 percent raise.

Bowman's deal comes two-plus months after Washington (Arizona Cardinals) and Laurinaitis (St. Louis Rams) reached extensions. Laurinaitis was a second-round choice in 2009. Washington was a second-rounder in 2010.

Bowman is part of a 2010 49ers draft class featuring Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, Anthony Dixon and Kyle Williams. Taylor Mays, Nate Byham and Phillip Adams were also part of that group.