49ers NaVorro Bowman wants to play NOW


Linebacker NaVorro Bowman can’t wait to debut with his repaired left Achilles in the Sept. 10 regular-season opener.

That will be the true test for his second comeback in three years from a left leg injury.

San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) works out during training camp with linebackers coach Johnny Holland, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017, in Santa Clara, California. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

But, first, he must trudge through at least one more exhibition, Sunday night’s nationally-television visit to Minnesota.

“I’d rather just sit down and wait for Game 1 if it was up to me,” Bowman said Thursday. “But coaches want to see a few things, see guys playing together.

“So I’m not sure how much I’ll play, but I will (play).”

Any questions about Bowman’s range and agility really can’t be answered until he’s pursuing the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey and others at Levi’s Stadium in about two weeks.

Meanwhile, he and those around him are saying all the encouraging things you’d want to hear about this comeback, which has been an easier road than the knee injury that cost him 2014.

“I feel great,” Bowman said. “I feel I can do everything I was able to do before the injuries, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Added defensive coordinator Robert Saleh: “He has no deficiencies. Bowman’s looked really, really good. Both 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 Saleh, a first-time defensive coordinator, is not downplaying the challenge awaiting Bowman and other linebackers when it comes to covering tight ends.

“You’re looking at (the Seattle Seahawks’) Jimmy Graham, (the Panthers’) Greg Olsen, (the New England Patriots’ Rob) Gronkowski, and there’s matchup problems,” Saleh said. “. So, how you’re going to handle those matchup problems will always be a discussion. I do think they can easily cover them, between him and Foster. They can easily cover a tight end.”

San Francisco 49ers' NaVorro Bowman (53) sits on the field after getting injured during their game against the Dallas Cowboys in the third quarter of their NFL game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
San Francisco 49ers’ NaVorro Bowman (53) sits on the field after getting injured during their game against the Dallas Cowboys in the third quarter of their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) 

Saleh didn’t close the door on possibly inserting Ray-Ray Armstrong for some coverage help. But Bowman, an eigth-year veteran, doesn’t envision himself leaving the field.



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