Linebacker NaVorro Bowman answered questions in the 49ers media auditorium Thursday. Here’s a transcript.
Q: How do you approach this training camp?
BOWMAN: Just excited to play again. I’ve been out for a while, so my approach has always been ready to go for minicamp. I’ve been putting the work in. I’ve maintained, if not gotten better, with my body, so I feel excited to be able to go out there again.
Q: Do you feel like there’s a new level of excitement among your teammates than the past couple years?
BOWMAN: I do. We’ve all been talking about it. You can just feel the energy. Guys are like, “I’m glad training camp is here. I’m ready to go to work.” Guys understand what Kyle asks of us on the offensive side, and on the defensive side guys are excited about the scheme and want to see it all come together.
Q: John Lynch said a couple of weeks ago on the radio that he wants to see you in the preseason, wanted the see the guy he’s seen on tape the past few years. Is that something you’re eager to participate in?
BOWMAN: I just look forward to playing. Sometimes coaches want you to play more than you want to play. Sometimes you want to play more than they want you to play. I’m just putting the work in. I’ll be ready whenever. I’ll do what I know I can do. Like I said, the accolades that I’ve earned before doesn’t mean anything. A lot of guys look up to me and understand what I’ve accomplished, but I’m taking pride in leading and showing them the way.
Q: Are you excited to mentor Rueben Foster and do you see his potential? Do you think he can be an impact player this season?
BOWMAN: I think so. I think from what I’ve seen, he understands the game. We’ve had a chance to work out together several times, and he’s excited to be around me. That’s the first step to building a relationship that we’re trying to get to. I’ve seen what he’s done in college. We just want to transfer it here to the NFL. He’s open ears, open to learning new things. That’s what we want, to get to that point. I really do think he’ll have a successful year.
Q: Do you watch much college football. What did you see from Foster?
BOWMAN: He plays the linebacker position right. I want him to understand that this game is more angle-like in the NFL. Guys cut faster and do a lot more things. That’s just all you’ve got to do – transfer that understanding to the NFL level. He wouldn’t be here or have gotten drafted where he did if we didn’t believe that he could do those things. He’s definitely a linebacker and understands the game as much as he needs to to be successful.
Q: What sticks out to you about Kyle Shanahan’s offense?
BOWMAN: Kyle’s offense just has a lot of variety to it. Sometimes you can expect certain plays out of certain formations, but Kyle gives you pretty much every scenario that you can get out of just the simplest formations, and he makes it all look the same. That’s challenging to the back end, to us as linebackers, giving the holes to see through the defense with us honoring the run fake or it being a run and us being late to come downhill. I think he understands what other coordinators want to call or are trying to take away, and he does the opposite. I’m really excited since he’s gotten here to go against it, to see the flaws in our defense so that I know what to expect what other teams are going to do against us.
Q: How does having a strong safety in the box impact your role on the defense and your responsibilities?
BOWMAN: Just understanding where he is, understanding a run might go toward him as opposed to coming to the linebackers on the strong side. Him wanting to be down there. Him being able to take some pressure off of us having to go cover this fast, speedy guy with him being in the box with certain personnel. A lot of things – him understanding run fits that way we can give different looks. All those things come into play. Excited to see those guys embrace the challenge that Coach Saleh has presented.
Q: How is your Achilles?
BOWMAN: I’ve been full speed. I’ve done everything throughout minicamp. Those practices that we had, those weren’t lackadaisical practices. We got after it. Coaches wanted to see what we kind of players we had. Practicing without pads I think is harder than practicing with pads because you have to protect your teammates but also get your job done. I’ve completed that. I’ve stood tall with all the workouts. The Achilles is fine. I’m not worried about that. Just ready to put the pads back on and ride around.
Q: Do you feel you and Malcolm Smith have developed a good chemistry, and how much of a challenge is going to be for Rueben to displace him in the starting lineup?
BOWMAN: Malcolm has a head start, and he has been playing for a while now. He understands the game, and I think that’s the reason we were able to click out there during minicamp, because he understood what was coming and we were able to talk about things as they were going on. Our room is very tightknit. We’re all about getting a solution out of any problem we come up with as a group. We’ll let the coaches decide and handle the rotation and things like that. Malcolm is definitely a good player and understands the game as well.