In his third year in the NFL, NaVorro Bowman has been recognized as one of the top inside linebackers in the league. Even though he has been a two-time All-Pro LB, he isn’t satisfied with his accolades he accomplished in a short span.
Bowman specifically said he wants to improve as a pass defender in coverage.
“I want to get better and not get complacent with any of the success I’ve had, said Bowman. “If I had to be specific, I would just say coverage. Playing coverage is probably the main thing that I would want to work on, just keeping my hips loose and being able to check those quick, fast guys.”
Last season, Bowman was playing almost every down for the 49ers and did multiple duties from staying in the box to dropping back in coverage.
The 49ers ILB has been seen working more coverage drills rather than working on stopping the run. Bowman has also used camp to prepare for opposing offenses who are starting to use more of a read-option based scheme. With offensive coordinator Greg Roman using a few option plays on occasion, Bowman can take a first glance at what others will be doing this year.
“The option game brings a lot of havoc towards defense, the coaches definitely spent the whole offseason knowing we’re going to have to face the option down the road,” said Bowman. “It all comes down to reading your keys, lining up right and making plays.”
The backup inside linebacker roster spots behind Bowman and Patrick Willis are wide open with the losses of Larry Grant and Tavares Gooden in free agency. Michael Wilhoite, 2013 draft pick Nick Moody, Nate Stupar and 2012 draft pick Darius Fleming are competing for one or two spots on the roster. If the reserves impress the coaches in other aspects, they could contribute on special teams.
Bowman has liked teaching the linebackers what he knows about the game of football and how solid the reserves are in listening. He can tell the backup linebackers are eager to do whatever they can in helping the team.
“Our room is unique,” said Bowman. “We’re usually the generals of the defense and we have to be focused on every single day. Those are the types of guys we have in the room, guys willing to learn, willing to hear any type of critique to help their team.”
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio kept the door open that up to two ILBs could backup Willis and Bowman. Regardless of who ends up winning the competition for a spot behind the All-Pro duo, Bowman said the goal of the 49ers hasn’t changed.
“It’s a new season. We have a lot of new additions to the team, but it feels to be back out there,” said Bowman. “We also have an ultimate goal to reach, I think that’s the greatest thing about it. Guys have been working so hard together throughout the offseason and we’re trying to reach that ultimate goal.”