NaVorro Bowman | San Francisco 49ers | Inside Linebacker
Height: 6’0″ | Weight: 242
Date of Birth: 5/28/1988 (29)
Hometown: District Heights, Maryland
College: Penn State
Draft: 2010, Round 3, Pick 91
Contract: 7 years, $77 million, through 2022
NaVorro Bowman is another underrated linebacker on our countdown. Perhaps it’s the fact that he plays for a miserable San Francisco squad, but Bowman goes largely unaccredited for his performance. Bowman is an exceptional tackler and the heart and soul of the 49ers, and the defense looked very different in 2014 and 2016 with him on the sidelines. In his four full seasons as a starter, Bowman has totaled no fewer than 143 tackles in 16 games. His affinity for finding the ball carrier and ability to get into the backfield played a huge role in some very good 49ers defenses in the early 2010s.
Unfortunately, injuries have limited Bowman in what is an otherwise stellar career. He suffered a torn ACL and MCL in the fourth quarter of the 2013 NFC Championship Game, forcing him to miss the entirety of 2014, then missed the final 12 games of the 2016 season with a torn achilles tendon.
Those injuries have apparently become a concern for the 49ers, who are under new leadership with first year GM John Lynch and rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan. With the acquisition of Reuben Foster in the 2017 NFL Draft, rumor is the Niners are looking to move Bowman, whether that is through a trade or releasing him.
This would be a needlessly bold move, and here’s hoping it doesn’t happen. Perhaps a restructured contract is in order, but Bowman is a force to be reckoned with, and to get rid of him in favor of an untested rookie seems silly. No matter who Bowman plays for in 2017, he’ll be among the top tacklers in football, and a return to the Pro Bowl wouldn’t surprise anyone.
Awards and Accolades:
3x Pro Bowl (2012, 2013, 2015)
4x First-team All-Pro (2011 – 2013, 2015)
Honorable Mentions: Maurkice Pouncey, Nigel Bradham