49ers: Why NaVorro Bowman will be Staying Put as the “Mike” Linebacker

Niners Live is at it again, and this time we address some concerns or questions that fans have had concerning Mr. Bowman, in: Why NaVorro Bowman will be Staying Put as the “Mike” Linebacker.


Let’s start this party off right, shall we? In order to speak of the game, you must simply know the game. How so? Do tell, you say? Allow me to enter with this Niners Live game if you will. Is permission granted? Yes, it is. Thank you. First, let’s look at and break down the other linebacker positions at a glance and their roles and responsibilities from a fundamental understanding of the game, of course.

The (Will) Linebacker: Malcolm Smith was signed to occupy this spot.

  • Must showcase the ability of great instincts, read/react with extreme athleticism, and speed to match, while operating at high level.
  • High productivity is imperative to the success of the unit. A player can look good on paper and have all of the measurables and attributes, however, if he’s not highly productive and doesn’t make a lot of plays, guess what? This position isn’t going to work for you.
  • The need for speed, and speed kills. This position should improve team speed and be a key contributor on special teams. Simply put, the ideal (Will) backer needs to have speed and the ability to cover in the flat and in general. And if he doesn’t? Then this position isn’t going to work for him.

The (Sam) Linebacker: Open for competition.

  • Plays lined up on the tight end. Having fast/strong hands is a must, and first-step lateral quickness to boot, as well as balance and the ability to shed/come off blocks. Explosive power is vital to his success.
  • Has to process and identify run versus the pass, read/react abilities must be on point. Why? Because this position will see multiple looks from opposing offenses.
  • Being a third-down rusher is a big bonus, no doubt, however, he must be able to cover pass catching tight ends, or an offensive coordinator will have a field day putting the (SAM) in compromising positions that exploit the lack of sustainable lateral quickness.
  • Does some of the dirty work taking on blockers such as; in-line tight end, tackle, chip blocking back, etc.

The (Mike) Linebacker: Bowman’s best fit.

  • Having strong leaderships skills are a must for this job requirement.
  • Having high football I.Q. and understanding his surroundings must also be on his resume in camp, team meetings, the huddle, pre-season and on game day, and more.
  • Has to be good in zone coverage, no doubt.
  • This position needs a rare breed with unique perspectives and instincts.

Recapping Bowman’s last two years of production: In 2015, Bowman led the NFL with 154 tackles, 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and earned a trip to the Pro-Bowl. He was voted 61st amongst his peers on the top 100 list.

In 2016, Bowman’s combined tackles were 35 with one sack, one forced fumble, and an interception in four games before sustaining a foot/Achilles injury. Bowman also added two passes defended and three stuff runs. In his six-year career, Bowman has amassed 671 combined tackles, 12.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, four interceptions, 26 passes defended, 34 runs stuff, and a pick six.

Bowman graded out by Pro Football Focus (Subscription required): 86.0 overall, 85 run defense, 82.0 coverage, 48.1 pass rush (snap count total 251, run 104, pass 124, and 23 pass rush snaps).

Now, allow me to leave you with this:

Why NaVorro Bowman will be staying put as the “Mike” Linebacker? As aforementioned in the breakdown of the other linebacker positions, having lateral quickness and the ability to cover tight ends is a must. Note: NaVorro Bowman has had two major injuries in recent years, a devastating torn ACL/MCL during the NFC Championship in January 2014 and a torn Achilles in October 2016, to be exact. It’s safe to say his lateral quickness has been compromised, or hasn’t been what we’ve seen from him pre-injuries.

However, having said that, Bowman bounced back in 2015 with vengeance, determination and sure will with some resolve to match, which was a true testament to his warrior character and mentality. Niners Live salutes you and appreciates all you have done for the 49ers organization on and off the field and for the fans.

Closing the case:

Last but not least, the (Mike) backer position is Bowman’s comfort zone, his safe haven if you will, one that he’ll rely on while he’s transiting via post injury. A player coming back from injury, let alone two major ones, will have to regain his confidence and trust in the lower half of his body: knee, legs, and heel, etc., all over again. That’s why playing him in another position where he can’t be a field general, so to speak, and dictator of the action by way of his mental/Mike responsibilities would not bode well for Bowman.

The 2015 flashback leadership (MIKE) play:

His leadership, his veteran savviness to diagnose plays like when he helped Jimmie Ward out in Chicago when he called the defensive audible, and Ward made the pick six, remember that? As seen above in the link.

Bonus Niners Live Game 101:

Middle Linebackers are asked to play in some tight areas where straight-line speed doesn’t show up as it would in a 40-yard dash. That’s why short area quickness, small bursts, and instincts are really the glue that keeps the (MIKE) consistently making plays inside along with his vast/wealth of knowledge of the game of football, and as aforementioned, leadership skills.

Allow this savvy veteran to do what he does best now, at his stage in his career which we’ve broken down in our Niners Live (Mike) session.

Potential building blocks for the future:

Recently on Niners Live we’ve discussed: Why the 49ers Need to Address the Heir Apparent to NaVorro Bowman and Fearless Predictions: The 49ers Draft “DE Solomon Thomas”.

Appreciation for 49er fans:

Thank you for tuning into Niners Live, the home of the true Fan, writer, 24/7 sports media personality, from a different perspective of course, and the Brave….. Oh did I just drop the (Mic) in this article? No pon intended… Haha, what do you think? You just read a Niners Live article. Are you not entertained? In my Russell Crowe “Gladiator” voice…..

As always, keep your eyes wide open, 49er fans. Niners Live will be watching with you. #eyeswideopen and often imitated but never duplicated… Go Niners.

Welcome to Lyftlive.com.

All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Editor Niners Live.