Linebacker NaVorro Bowman is the heart of the San Francisco 49ers defense. He's also scheduled to make about $9.5 million in 2017, which is a lot of money for a player who is coming off of numerous injuries. As far as salary cap space goes, the 49ers are still in very good shape with over $70 million in cap space, according to the latest report from the NFLPA. So it seems rather odd that one of the team's most valuable players – when healthy – would be part of potential trade talk.

Former NFL executive and media analyst Mike Lombardi, now with The Ringer, said Wednesday on the site's official podcast that the 49ers may be thinking about just that. The team may be willing to trade Bowman in order to unload his salary and they may be willing to do so for very little.

"They've made it known that if you want him, he's healthy," Lombardi said. "That they'd be willing to move (Bowman)."

Lombardi said that 49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan want to clear out the roster and make it their own.

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"Bowman is a guy who's been a leader in the locker room," Lombardi said. "He's been part of the team. He had a realy good relationship with the old general manager – Trent Baalke. I think this is a message that they would send to the locker room: He's no longer in control anymore. He's available if you want him. I don't know who's going to pay him nine-and-a-half million coming off all of the injuries that he's had, but you can have him.

"And I think ultimately, you've got to make that decision and I don't think it will be a lot. I think the 49ers will get rid of him for very little."

You can listen to the entire podcast over at The Ringer.

In August of 2016, Bowman was given a four-year, $42 million extension that not only added to his existing contract, making it a seven-year deal that will keep Bowman with the team through the 2022 season, but it also gave him a significant pay raise through the first three years. The total value of the contract reportedly made Bowman the second-highest paid inside linebacker behind only Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers.

In October, Bowman suffered a torn Achilles in a game against the Dallas Cowboys. He ended up on the team's injured reserve list. The injury came nearly 13 months after Bowman's return to the football field from ACL and MCL tears.

Through nearly four games in 2016, Bowman had 35 tackles, a sack, an interception, a forced fumble, and two passes defended. In 2015, he was in on 1,126 defensive snaps. 627 of those were against the pass while 499 were against the run. That season saw Bowman compile 154 tackles – which led the league – 2.5 sacks, and two passes defended.

According to Pro Football Focus, Bowman was the 49ers' highest-graded player in 2016 but only appeared in four games.

Earlier this month, Shanahan spoke very positively about Bowman and his recovery. The All-Pro linebacker was a full participant in the team's minicamp held just prior to the draft in April.

"I couldn't be more excited with Bo than I am right now," Shanahan said. "I didn't know what to expect. I've gone against him over the years and have the utmost respect for him as a player. Never knew him as a person, though. To get here and -- he's been winning out drills out there, our shuttles. [Head strength and conditioning coach] Ray [Wright] takes him through a lot of competitions and stuff. And just to come out there and watch him, he does not look like a guy coming off Achilles.

"I thought it would take him some time. I didn't think he would really be looking himself until training camp but when I go out there right now and watch him work, he looks a lot better than I was expecting this early. He's put the time and he's put the work in."

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