NFC West: Navorro Bowman

San Francisco 49ers All-Pro inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman is “at a real good place” in his recovery, general manager Trent Baalke told reporters at Levi’s Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

Bowman
Bowman missed all of last season while recuperating from the devastating left knee injury -- he tore his ACL and MCL -- suffered during the NFC Championship Game following the 2013 season.

And while the Niners hoped and anticipated Bowman would only miss about half of the 2014 season, Baalke insisted there was never a setback.

“It was just a matter of what’s the best decision for him, long term, at that time,” Baalke said. “And that’s the decision we made.”

Speculation swirled Monday morning that Bowman’s knee had not responded and that he, not the retiring Patrick Willis, would be the one to leave Santa Clara, a possible cut if he failed a physical.

Last season, Bowman told reporters he would not speak about the injury until he got back on the field.

The Niners, though, expect Bowman back, just as they did last year, with his rehab going well, according to Baalke.

“You can tell he’s working,” Baalke said. “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.

“I think he’s at a real good place now.”

Similar thoughts were expressed last fall, but time, and rehab, has a certain healing property.

Just because NaVorro Bowman has been added to the San Francisco 49ers' 53-man roster on Tuesday does not mean the All-Pro inside linebacker will practice Wednesday, let alone suit up and play in one of the Niners' three remaining regular-season games.

This move was made to give the reeling 49ers options down the immediate road -- think playoffs -- as well as a veteran presence, sounding board and voice on the practice field ... when he does practice.

"Just taking it day by day," Bowman told reporters. "Whenever the coaches say I can go out there, I'm sure it will be a modified practice; it wouldn't be full out. Of course, that's how I would like it, but I'll take my time and take it slow and just try to get back to where I was."

Bowman, who is still recuperating from tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee in last January's NFC Championship Game, saw his 21-day evaluation window close Tuesday without participating in a practice. The Niners then had to decide whether to activate him off the physically unable to perform list or place him on season-ending injured reserve.

Bowman
"Of course I want to be there, if I'm ready to go," he said. "It just comes to if I'm ready. I'm listening to the doctors. They're being great, cautious about what to do.

"As far as me, once I'm out there, I don't know how to go slow. I just know one speed. They just want to make sure they control me up to that point."

Bowman has been around the team all season but has felt helpless as an observer. Heading to Seattle, where he injured his knee, to face the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks toting a 7-6 record and playoff hopes flagging with a two-game losing streak is a new feeling for Bowman.

Especially since he won't play this weekend.

"It's hard to go out there and play teams like Seattle when you've got young guys that haven't been in those type of games yet," Bowman said. "Just me putting on a helmet again, them guys seeing me put the work in, just showing them that I really do love this game, hopefully it will raise the morale.

"Every game is different, but this is a division game ... it takes a special attitude and mindset to go out there and beat them guys [the Seahawks]. You can't approach it like any other game because they're not just any team."

49ers vs. Broncos preview

October, 17, 2014
10/17/14
8:00
AM ET

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Prime time is the right time for a game between teams that entered the season at the front of the Super Bowl conversation.

At least that is how Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. sees it.

"You face any other top teams in the league, you always want to get up for them," Harris Jr. said. "It’s Sunday night prime time, so we want to have a good showing. We want to go out there and show we’re definitely a contender, definitely one of the top teams. ... They have a great team; they’ve been together for a while, so they know how to play together in these big games."

The San Francisco 49ers will be the fifth team the Broncos (4-1) have played this season that won at least 10 games in 2013 -- "we’ve had a salty schedule," is how Broncos coach John Fox has put it -- and the 49ers (4-2) own the only win against the Dallas Cowboys this season and have won three in a row.

ESPN's 49ers reporter Paul Gutierrez and Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold discuss the matchup:

Legwold: Paul, it seems, at least from the outside, like there has been plenty of turmoil this season with reports 49ers players are tuning Jim Harbaugh out and that Harbaugh won’t return after this season. What’s the mood in the locker room? And how do you think Harbaugh interacts with the team?

Gutierrez: It’s important to note that most, if not all, of these reports have come from national reporters, particularly from a certain league-owned media outlet. And to the conspiracy theorist in me, that means the leaks are coming from within the 49ers and above Harbaugh’s pay grade. As I’ve said before, Harbaugh likes to make his players uncomfortable because he believes that brings out the best in them. I wonder if that same mentality is being thrust upon Harbaugh’s coaching skills. As far as the locker room goes, to a man and on the record, the players say they have Harbaugh’s back, with quarterback Colin Kaepernick saying he would go to "war" with his coach. And technically, Harbaugh still has a year left on his deal. It’s just that talks of extension have been tabled until after the season. It has made for a wild ride thus far, no doubt, and Harbaugh has made a point to wander through the locker room to chat with players during media access periods during the week.

Speaking of bedside manner, Fox has been seen as a folksy players' coach from yesteryear, at least, to the outsider. How much of his personality has rubbed off on the players, and is that a reason the Broncos have been able to shake off the sting of last February’s Super Bowl disaster?

Legwold: When Fox missed four games last season because of heart valve surgery, the word most of the players, as well as the coaches on Fox’s staff, used to describe what was missing while Fox was away was "energy." Those who have worked with him say Fox’s greatest attribute, beyond the on-field work, is giving those in the organization the belief their job is an important part of the process, no matter where the job fits within the organization. Yes, the Broncos have won plenty of games along the way, and having Peyton Manning at quarterback is a spectacular starting point for any head coach, but Fox has support in the locker room, in the executive offices, and a contract extension signed this past offseason. That said, he has also been the guy in charge when the Broncos have come up short, and in the case of the Super Bowl, 35 points short.

Moving toward the field, how have the 49ers' wide receivers helped Kaepernick?

Gutierrez: At first, it was a hot mess. The 49ers seemed to forget they were a team built on a power running game, and Kaepernick looked out of sorts with all of the shiny toys at his disposal, with Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd joining Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin as wideouts, and tight end Vernon Davis. Then, about Week 4, the 49ers rediscovered their identity behind running back Frank Gore and, voila, the passing game blossomed. This past week, Kaepernick threw three touchdown passes to three different wideouts without an interception. Crabtree might be his favorite receiver, and Lloyd has become his most explosive down the left sideline, but Boldin is his Mr. Dependable underneath. It is, without a doubt, helping Kaepernick’s maturation process. Especially since there does not seem to be any selfishness going on with the receivers. Just healthy competition. At least, that’s how it looks when the team is winning.

Manning, meanwhile, does not seem to have missed a beat after losing receivers Eric Decker to the New York Jets and Wes Welker to injury. Is Manning simply so good that he elevates the play of those around him, or is it a scheme thing in Denver?

Legwold: In all that Manning has done in his career, the fact he has lifted his play to its current level following spinal fusion surgery in 2011 -- his fourth neck surgery -- is a remarkable achievement. The guy has started 37 games for the Broncos and thrown 107 touchdown passes in those games. The offense was built for him; he runs it with complete freedom to change any call to any play at any time. And at this stage of his career, with his work habits, he might think the game better than anyone who has played the position. But all of that said, there is a perfect-storm effect in Denver as well. Adam Gase is an innovative risk-taker as an offensive coordinator who paid his coaching dues to earn his spot. Receiver Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas are elite players, Welker is routinely called the best slot receiver in the NFL by opposing coaches, and in his time with Manning, Emmanuel Sanders will go from a player folks thought was pretty good to Pro Bowl worthy. So Manning has been very good for the Broncos, and the Broncos, with Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway calling the personnel shots for the team, have built a quality landing spot for Manning.

Some teams have been aggressive coming after Manning with the blitz, like the Cardinals, while the Jets consistently dropped eight into coverage last weekend. How do you think the 49ers will approach it?

Gutierrez: Let’s just say, both ways. Yes, the 49ers brought the house against the St. Louis Rams’ Austin Davis, sacking him five times (the total doubled the 49ers’ season sack total to 10) and pressuring him on 44 percent of his dropbacks (a season high for the 49ers), but, as you know, Manning loves it when teams blitz him. His 2.25-second release is the second best in the league, again, per our friends at ESPN Stats & Info. Yet, his 92.8 total rating when not pressured since joining Denver in 2012 is the league’s best, and the 49ers rank 23rd in pressure percentage. So yeah, the best way to affect Manning is by bringing pressure. Just pick your poison in doses, I guess, right? What might make it all a moot point is the potential loss of All-Pro inside linebacker Patrick Willis, who injured a toe Monday night. We’re talking about a linebacker corps already missing the suspended Aldon Smith and the recuperating NaVorro Bowman.

Manning, who needs two touchdown passes to tie Brett Favre's career record (508), always comes across as disinterested in records and his legacy. But surely, holding the passing touchdown record would mean something to him, right? How important do you think holding the mark would be to him?

Legwold: This is all something he will have to get used to as many of these records approach, especially if he plays one or two more seasons following this one. Certainly his legacy is important to him, but it gets lost sometimes because he is so competitive. People talk about his intellect and his ability to digest information and recall things he has seen in his career. But it would be impossible to play as many consecutive games as he played before his spinal fusion surgery kept him out of the 2011 season (208 consecutive regular-season games) and to push himself as hard as he does if he were not one of the most competitive people in the game. So, in that vein he wants Super Bowls and knows his career clock is winding down. So, though the records will be something he respects, and at some point enjoys, his desire to play for a Super Bowl champion trumps everything right now, including the touchdown mark.

Most significant move: It was already known that All-Pro inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman would miss half of the season after his gruesome left knee injury in the NFC title game last January, but it was made official with Bowman being placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list on Monday. As such, he has to sit out at least the first six weeks of the season. At the end of that sixth week, Bowman then has three weeks to begin practicing and once he does get on the practice field, he has three weeks to join the active 53-man roster. In short, Bowman could be in a game as soon as Week 7 at the Denver Broncos and as late as Week 15, at the Seattle Seahawks, to be eligible to play in the postseason.

Wild card: Marcus Lattimore entered training camp fully expecting to be practicing after missing all of last season recovering from the injury to his right knee suffered in 2012. Alas, he never made it. Now, being placed on the reserve/non-football injury list, Lattimore must sit out at least the first six weeks of the season. Still, coach Jim Harbaugh insisted earlier this summer that Lattimore would be a part of this team this season. And with Jewel Hampton waived, you wonder if the 49ers are holding an active spot for him down the road.

49ers’ cuts: QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, S D.J. Campbell, TE Kevin Greene, RB Jewel Hampton, P Colton Schmidt, LB Kion Wilson, WR Devon Wylie all waived while WR David Reed was released. RB Marcus Lattimore, FB Trey Millard, CB Keith Reaser and G Brandon Thomas placed on reserve/non-football injury list and LB NaVorro Bowman, TE Garrett Celek and DT Kaleb Ramsey were put on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. Also, LB Blake Costanzo was released from injured reserve.
Examining the San Francisco 49ers' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Because of heavy competition elsewhere, the 49ers will likely only carry two quarterbacks. They finished last season that way. The competition will be to see if undrafted rookie Kory Faulkner can take McLeod Bethel-Thompson's spot on the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

The fact that the 49ers drafted Hyde in the second round and Lattimore is healthy means some tough decisions will have to be made. Hunter is too valuable to let go. That means 2012 second-round pick LaMichael James will have difficulty making the roster.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

The 49ers are so much deeper here this year than last. That means they will likely have to keep six receivers. Lloyd may look good and Patton has too much potential to give up on. That means it could be tough for Kassim Osgood to make it even though he is a special teams cog.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

If Davis ends his holdout, I can't see the 49ers keeping more than three tight ends because of the glut at receiver. Unless Garrett Celek has a big camp, he may be in trouble. Carrier intrigues the 49ers because of his size and speed.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)

Assuming Boone ends his holdout, this is a pretty nice group of eight players. It's improved from last year. A solid veteran like Adam Snyder and a promising youngster like Ryan Seymour will have trouble making the team.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

This is another power spot. It's deep. Players like Jerod-Eddie and Dial are too valuable to cut. Ramsey has looked good and I have a hunch the 49ers may like him too much to expose him to the waiver wire. That means Demarcus Dobbs could be in trouble.

LINEBACKERS (7)

Most teams carry six linebackers but the 49ers are stacked here, especially with NaVorro Bowman out for about half the season. Because fifth-round pick Lynch is promising he should make the roster. Dan Skuta is an excellent player, but there might not be any room for him. I could see him being one of those later-summer Trent Baalke trade specials because he has value.

CORNERBACKS (5)

This unit is in flux, but I see Johnson making it. Don't be surprised if there is some in-camp jockeying as the 49ers look for the best mix.

SAFETIES (5)

Ward, the 49ers' first-round pick, will play nickel cornerback as a rookie, but projects long term as a safety. Ventrone and Spillman should stick because they are great on special teams. Craig Dahl could be in trouble.

SPECIALISTS (3):

This group is set and it's excellent.
The San Francisco 49ers will have their mandatory minicamp from Tuesday-Thursday. Here’s some things to watch for:

Davis
Boone
Will Davis and Boone show? Both tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone have stayed away from the voluntary portion of the offseason. That’s over. Starting Tuesday, everything the 49ers do as a team is mandatory and each player can be fined if they aren’t present. Davis has said he “should be” at the minicamp. Boone has not said a word publicly about his plans. However, I’ve gotten the sense Boone is prepared not to show up until he gets a new deal. If neither player is at practice Tuesday, they will be holdouts and the stakes will change with their absences.

The cornerbacks: This is the biggest position of change. Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown are gone. Chris Culliver will start, but he is still working back from a torn ACL that kept him out all of last season. He should be fine for camp, but don’t expect him to go full-go in this camp. First-round pick Jimmie Ward is set to be the nickelback, but he is coming off a foot injury. He should be ready for training camp. A player of note in the minicamp is free-agent pickup Chris Cook. He will be in the rotation. Cook, who signed from Minnesota, has ideal size. He has looked good in the OTA sessions.

Offensive line: This unit, the pride and joy of the 49ers, should be fine in the long run, but it’s a little rough right now. Boone has been absent. Right tackle Anthony Davis is recovering from a shoulder injury and won’t be there until camp. Daniel Kilgore is taking over from Jonathan Goodwin and trying to hold off rookie Marcus Martin at center. Again, things will settle down, but don’t expect a well-oiled unit this week.

Passing game: Most of the receivers have been out during the voluntary sessions, mostly as precautions or for minor injuries. The passing game was rough in the OTA session that was open to the media last Tuesday. I’d expect to see more receivers during this camp, which is vital to help rhythm with quarterback Colin Kaepernick heading into training camp.

Inside linebackers: NaVorro Bowman is expected to be out until midseason as he recovers from a torn ACL. Michael Wilhoite has the inside shot to start for Bowman, but he will have to hold off Nick Moody and third-round pick Chris Borland.

Pass-rushers: Aldon Smith may face an NFL suspension. The 49ers need some extra pass-rush help. Keys to watch in camp is defensive lineman Tank Carradine, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, and second-year player Corey Lemonier, who looks like he’s added several pounds of muscle. The 49ers would love to see these two young players show a burst in this camp.

Marcus Lattimore: The 49ers are slowly bringing along the 2013 fourth-round draft pick. He has done some things in the OTA session, including showing nice hands out of the backfield. I wouldn’t expect Lattimore to go full-go in this camp, but the 49ers want to see continued comfort, speed and confidence from Lattimore, whom they hope can help this season.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Patrick Willis may have a slightly different look in the first half of the upcoming season.

Willis
During Tuesday's organized team activity, Willis was playing the "Mike" inside linebacker spot usually occupied by NaVorro Bowman in the 49ers' 3-4 defense. Bowman is likely out until midway through the season as he recovers from a torn ACL. Michael Wilhoite, the leading candidate to take Bowman's spot in the staring lineup, took most of the first-team repetitions Tuesday in the "Jack" inside linebacker spot Willis played last year.

Willis said the change may stick for the season. It is just a subtle change and he is comfortable there because he has played in the spot before. Willis said it is still strange being on the field without his fellow inside-linebacker star Bowman.

In other 49ers' notes:
  • Star tight end Vernon Davis and standout guard Alex Boone continued to stay away from the voluntary session as they have all offseason. They are both unhappy with their contract. Neither player will be considered a holdout until they miss the June 17-19 mandatory minicamp. Second-year tight end Vance McDonald is starting at tight end with Davis gone. McDonald appreciates the extra reps, but admitted this about Davis: "I miss the dude." Joe Looney is working in Boone's right guard spot.
  • The 49ers cut guard Al Netter to make room for special teamer Blake Costanzo on the 90-man roster.
  • Veteran defensive end Justin Smith and running back Frank Gore were onlookers during the meat of the workout. Like Gore, cornerback Chris Culliver participated in early warm-ups and the did not participate in team drills.
  • The 49ers named Dr. Fergus Connolly director of elite performance. Connolly will work intimately with football operations to develop innovative sports and performance science practices geared towards player welfare and performance optimization. He spent the last three years as a performance consultant to teams in the NFL, NBA, English Premier League and professional rugby.
  • Because several receivers were out for various reasons, reserve quarterback Josh Johnson played receiver in some drills. And he didn't look too bad. But don't expect him to change positions. It's just an emergency deal.
  • Among the banged up receivers are Steve Johnson (hamstring) and Quinton Patton (foot). Both injures are considered minor at this point. Like he did last week, Brandon Lloyd had a strong day. Chuck Jacobs, who spent last season in the practice squad, was very active Tuesday.
  • The quarterback whisperer, 49ers' head coach Jim Harbaugh, spent some one-on-one time with undrafted rookie quarterback Kory Faulkner early in Tuesday's practice.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The pick: Chris Borland, inside linebacker, Wisconsin.

My take: The San Francisco 49ers are having quite the day. Borland, like Carlos Hyde and Marcus Martin, can help right away. He was a star at Wisconsin. He is a durable tackle machine and was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He may be able to help with star NaVorro Bowman out for the first half of the season with a torn ACL. Borland should be a fine backup to Bowman and Patrick Willis in the next few seasons and then perhaps play more. Willis turns 30 next year.

Not a typical Baalke pick: 49ers general manager Trent Baalke is famous for gravitating to players with long arms. The knock on Borland is his short arms.

What's next: Two more picks tonight -- No. 94 and No. 100. Cornerbacks and receivers anyone? Hello?
Last month, San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said the team could look at some veteran inside linebackers as star NaVorro Bowman recovers from a torn ACL in his knee. Bowman could be out for half the season.

Connor
The 49ers have yet to add any veteran help, but they have been looking. The team showed interest in free agent Brandon Spikes before he signed with Buffalo. Spikes’ price tag was too big for the 49ers, who are simply looking for some depth and a veteran option in case they must turn to one. The 49ers like Michael Wilhoite, who spelled inside linebacker Patrick Willis successfully for a short period last season, and second-year player Nick Moody. CSN Bay Area reported this week that the 49ers are still exploring the veteran market.

Perhaps one reason why the 49ers haven’t signed anyone is that there are not a lot of great options.

Here are some names that could potentially interest the 49ers: Desmond Bishop, Dan Connor, Jonathan Vilma, Paris Lenon, Larry Grant, Nick Barnett, Bryan Kehl and Larry Foote. Bishop and Kehl are coming off torn ACLs themselves, and players like Vilma, Barnett and Foote are at the end of their careers.

The bright side for the 49ers is they don’t need much from any addition. They are just looking for depth options.

'NaVorro Bowman Rule' passes

March, 26, 2014
3/26/14
12:10
PM ET
The "NaVorro Bowman Rule" has passed.

NFL owners passed a new rule that will expand replays to include the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play. The previous rule was that such plays were not reviewable to keep officials from reviewing routine post-fumble scrums. This sort of play was a crucial one in the 49ers NFC Championship game loss at Seattle in January. Bowman appeared to have stripped the ball during the play at the goal line in the fourth quarter at Seattle.

The play was not reviewed and Bowman tore his ACL on the play. San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh called the lack of a review on the play a "loophole." Yes, the 49ers voted to pass the rule.

As for Bowman’s recovery, Harbaugh offered reporters in Orlando an update.

“(49ers’ general manger Baalke) Trent talked to him last Wednesday and he’s doing really good, according to Trent. Also talked to Drew Rosenhaus (Bowman’s agent) just the other day here and apparently NaVorro is doing really well, which is no surprise because he’s such a tremendous athlete you just knew if anybody would be doing really well at this point it’d be him.”

In February, Harbaugh said the 49ers are prepared for Bowman to be out for up to half of the 2014 season.
The NFL owners meetings get under way in earnest Monday in Orlando, Fla. Let’s take a look at some storylines that may involve the 49ers:

Harbaugh situation: At the NFL combine in February -- the last time league officials gathered at the same place -- talk of coach Jim Harbaugh’s friction with the 49ers’ front office was a major story. Harbaugh and the rest of the brass will be in Orlando. That story has cooled and they have all worked well together in free agency. If anything develops this week, I’d surprised if it is as strong as last month’s batch of speculation.

Comp pick: Compensatory picks could be announced as early as Monday afternoon. The 49ers are expected to get either a third- or fourth-round pick.

Week 1 in Seattle: The NFL season opener Sept. 4 at Super Bowl champion Seattle could be announced at the meetings. Such announcements have been made at the meetings in the past. However, Fox Sports reported it is not expected this year. From what I hear, the 49ers and Green Bay Packers are among the favorites to be the visiting team. Who doesn’t want to see an NFC Championship game rematch as soon as possible?

Trade talks? The 49ers reportedly called Philadelphia about receiver DeSean Jackson, although 49ers general manager Trent Baalke told CSN Bay Area that the team has not called about Jackson. With the brass of both teams in the same hotel there is potential for talks to develop. Yes, Jackson would be a great fit for the 49ers. But the problem was, is and will be how the 49ers would fit his hefty contract under their tight salary cap.

The NaVorro Bowman rule? Among the rule changes to be considered this week is one inspired by a controversial call in the San Francisco 49ers' NFC title game loss at Seattle, in which linebacker Bowman tore his ACL. The owners will vote on whether to expand replays to include the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play. The current rule is that post-fumble scrums are not reviewable. Bowman appeared to have stripped the ball during the play at the goal line in the fourth quarter at Seattle. The play was not reviewed and Bowman was hurt.
It's probably not accurate to believe the San Francisco 49ers are going all in with Chris Cook and the one-high safety scheme.

Cook
After all, Cook signed a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum with no guaranteed money. If he was going to be the centerpiece of a new scheme, he’d get paid like it.

However, the addition of Cook is a sign the 49ers would like to do more press coverage and work in some one-high safety coverage, which Seattle Seahawks have executed so well. Cook is 6-foot-2, which makes him a nice fit for the scheme.

Cook, a second-round pick by Minnesota in 2010, made it clear in his introductory conference call what the 49ers want him to do.

"They want me to be the press guy," Cook said. "And that's what I like to do. I feel like I'll fit in well with the one-high scheme that they like to run. I came from a two-high scheme. And I feel like a one-high scheme and a man-to-man scheme fits me well."

ESPN scout Matt Williamson doesn’t believe the 49ers will adopt the one-high safety attack full time and instead thinks it will be a “wrinkle.” Despite the fact he doesn’t have an interception in four NFL seasons, Cook could help the 49ers.

“They want him to be their Richard Sherman with (safety Eric) Reid over the top. Cook is big and physical in press and does have a lot of ability,” Williamson said. “Not saying he is Sherman, but I do think that best uses Cook's skill set.”

Williamson said if the 49ers use Cook in press coverage, they can move new starting strong safety Antoine Bethea closer to the line of scrimmage than they played former starter Donte Whitner. Williamson said that can help compensate for playing without injured inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman early in the season. Bowman could miss up to half the season as he recovers from a torn ACL he suffered at Seattle in the NFC title game Jan. 19.

So, perhaps, the acquisition of Cook could have multiple benefits.
When Marcus Lattimore suffered the second devastating knee injury of his college career, he knew it would be life altering.

Lattimore
Lattimore
However, the former South Carolina star running back had no clue it could have a positive impact.

Lattimore tore the three major ligaments in his knee in October 2012. Earlier in his college career, Lattimore tore the ACL in his other knee. He readily admits that he thought his football playing days were over when he was being carted off the field after the second injury.

Six months later, however, the San Francisco 49ers took Lattimore -- widely considered the best running back in the country -- in the fourth round of the draft. The 2013 season was essentially a redshirt season. The team expects Lattimore to be a contributor in 2014.

“Whatever role they want me to do, I’m ready,” Lattimore said Saturday in a phone interview from Columbus, Ohio, where he is working with EAS Sports Nutrition. "The rehab is over.”

As Lattimore, who looked good in a three-week practice window late last season, prepares to embark on his NFL career, he is reflective about his exhaustive, intense recovery.

“Really, the whole experience has been a blessing,” Lattimore said. “It is making a good thing out of a bad thing.”

Lattimore said EA has helped him with his nutrition and overall physical health. He said he is a bigger, healthy, smarter athlete now. Lattimore said the injury also has helped him spiritually.

Lattimore has spoken at several recovery seminars and he has been in touch with many people, athletes and non-athletes, who are recovering from injuries.

“I get so many emails from people who are recovering, whether it’s from a knee or a shoulder surgery,” Lattimore said. “They are just everyday people. If I can inspire them, I will. Again, it’s making the best out of this situation.”

Lattimore said he is going to be there for 49ers star inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman as he recovers from a torn ACL and MCL he suffered in the NFC title game in January. The two have been in touch since Bowman’s injury.

“NaVorro is a warrior; he is going to be just fine,” Lattimore said. “I’ve talked to people who have seen him, and they say he is doing great.”
Hearing that star inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman might miss half the season because of his torn ACL was certainly interesting news Thursday.

However, it shouldn't be shocking. San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said while he wouldn't count Bowman out for Week 1, midway through the season is more realistic. Harbaugh is simply being cautious and showing that Bowman will not be rushed back. It's the right approach.

Bowman hasn't suffered a setback. The normal ACL recovery time is 6-9 months from the time of surgery. Bowman had surgery Feb. 2 so the second half of the season would be the right target date.

The 49ers have experience with starting a season without a key player. Receiver Michael Crabtree missed the first 11 games of the season while recovering from a torn Achilles he suffered in May. The 49ers offense badly missed Crabtree.

I think the team will handle this situation better. They are deep on defense and Bowman will not miss as much time.

Michael Wilhoite did a nice job while playing for an injured Patrick Willis for a short time last season. He will likely get the first crack at replacing Bowman, although I could see the team adding a veteran to provide options and depth while the team waits for Bowman's return.
Hearing that star inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman might miss half the season because of his torn ACL was certainly interesting news Thursday.

However, it shouldn't be shocking. San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said while he wouldn't count Bowman out for Week 1, midway through the season is more realistic. Harbaugh is simply being cautious and showing that Bowman will not be rushed back. It's the right approach.

Bowman hasn't suffered a setback. The normal ACL recovery time is 6-9 months from the time of surgery. Bowman had surgery Feb. 2 so the second half of the season would be the right target date.

The 49ers have experience with starting a season without a key player. Receiver Michael Crabtree missed the first 11 games of the season while recovering from a torn Achilles he suffered in May. The 49ers offense badly missed Crabtree.

I think the team will handle this situation better. They are deep on defense and Bowman will not miss as much time.

Michael Wilhoite did a nice job while playing for an injured Patrick Willis for a short time last season. He will likely get the first crack at replacing Bowman, although I could see the team adding a veteran to provide options and depth while the team waits for Bowman's return.

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