Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports



Linebacker NaVorro Bowman has spent seven years with the San Francisco 49ers since the team drafted him in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He missed the entire 2014 season while rehabbing from a torn ACL and MCL suffered during the 49ers' previous playoff run. Bowman missed all but four games in 2016 after suffering a torn Achilles tendon last October in a home loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Now, Bowman finds himself attempting to return to his former All-Pro level and, once again, prove his doubters wrong. He took part in the 49ers' entire offseason program as well as training camp and has played in each of the team's first two preseason games.

"The Achilles is fine," Bowman said in July. "I'm not worried about that. I'm just ready to put the pads back on and fly around."

The new coaching staff has raved about Bowman's progress and work ethic. Thursday afternoon was no different. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was asked about his starting Mike linebacker during a press conference that preceded practice.

"The guy gets like 150 tackles in his sleep," Saleh said. "When you're dealing with a guy like NaVorro, instinctually, they find the ball, they make tackles, they get PBUs. That's what they do. I think he'd be a fit for any scheme."

Early in the offseason, there was some concern that Bowman's coverage skills had diminished. Much of that concern evaporated – for the most part – once organized team activities rolled around.

Prior to the start of training camp, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee had the following to say about Bowman:

"Some reports said Bowman looked slow and not fully recovered from Achilles surgery this spring. That may have been the case in the team's very first minicamp before the draft but not so as OTAs and later minicamps got underway. It was clear from talking to Bowman that the recovery from the Achilles wasn't nearly as daunting and grueling as that from reconstructive knee surgery two years earlier."

Saleh was asked about Bowman's coverage skills heading into the team's third preseason game – a matchup with the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

"He's been good," Saleh said. "He has no deficiencies. Bowman has looked really, really good coverage-wise. He still has his range. He's got good quicks in and out of his breaks. So, I'm really not worried about all that stuff but, at the same time, when you're looking at a guy like all these tight ends that are around now, you're looking at Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, [Rob] Gronkowski, and there's matchup problems. And so, how are you going to handle those matchup problems? There will always be a discussion.

"I do think they can easily cover them between him and [Reuben] Foster. They can easily cover a tight end but you'll always have those discussions to make sure that you're doing what's best for the organization."

Through two preseason games, Bowman has had a tackle and three assists. Against the Broncos, he was Pro Football Focus' fourth-highest graded 49ers player and the game's sixth-highest graded player overall.