NaVorro Bowman on recently-reinstated Anthony Davis: “Hopefully he comes back ready to work.”

SANTA CLARA – NaVorro Bowman spoke in the media work room Saturday afternoon. Here’s a transcript.

Q: Do you anticipate three different guys competing to play next to you?

BOWMAN: Yeah, I think all three guys (Michael Wilhoite, Gerald Hodges and Ray Ray Armstrong) are looking forward to it. We have communicated for the 50 days that we had off, and all of the guys have been working. Just excited to compete, and may the best man win and get the job.

Q: How much time have you spent with new defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil to get inside his mind?

BOWMAN: I understand exactly what he’s trying to get done and how much attention he’s paying to those three guys, seeing who the guy is to get the job. He has his checklist that he wants to check off to make sure he’s the guy, and I have mine. We’ve been communicating on that aspect. Basically, we all know what we want and, like I said, may the best man win the job.

Q: In minicamp it seemed like O’Neil was getting creative with where he lined up the inside and outside linebackers. Is the goal to get you guys in a better position to make plays? You guys weren’t necessarily a big-play defense last season.

BOWMAN: I think we have the biggest D-line right now. When you look at that, you see that you want the linebackers to be free and be able to run around and do the things that they’re good at doing. So that’s his job to put us in the right spots. But as you mentioned, you’ve seen him doing a lot of different things. Guys can be on the on the edge and the outside linebackers can be in our spot. That will be a great, great experience for all of us. I think he has done a great job of letting us know not to key on one position, but to learn all four.

Q: How does your knee feel?

BOWMAN: I’m not too worried about the knee. The knee feels great, but I’m still staying on it so that anything that comes up and holds me back won’t come up. Just excited to have another year to go out and improve on the year that I had last year. Just to prove the doubters wrong and get back to the level I was out and get the respect I deserve. That’s really on my mind, just to prove whoever thinks I’m not the best that I am.

Q: Is your goal to win the Super Bowl, and do you think that’s realistic?

BOWMAN: That’s always the goal, I think for all 32 teams. I think it’s realistic. You just put in the work. Put in what you want to get out of it. I think if we approach this thing not worried about anything negative, just worried about the positives, being able to react in the situations Chip puts us in, understanding the game and being able to get off the spot really quickly and defend. Chip is going to score points – we all know that. We as a defense just have to take that and do our job and not worry about how many possessions we get, but just approach the game and do our job.

Q: You were a first-team All Pro, so you’ve got some respect. You still look for slights?

BOWMAN: Yeah, I still look for slights. Of course my wife does. She reminds me every day like, “What are they talking about?” That’s just something that, internally as a player, you want the respect from everyone, because we go out there, we risk our lives, we dedicate everything to this game. When someone says something that you don’t approve of, you’ve got to prove them wrong.

Q: Speaking of respect, does Anthony Davis have the respect of the locker room? Does he need to regain the respect, rebuild the respect and trust of his teammates?

BOWMAN: It’s up to him. I think him leaving the game was him personally making a decision on himself. Him coming back, I think it shows he misses it, he wants it. This is not an easy game, so when you make a decision to come back it shows you still love the game. Hopefully he comes back willing to work and just contribute the way that I know he can and the way that the coaches know he can. I’m excited about it.

Q: How much were you able to work in the offseason on agility and change of direction?

BOWMAN: Just being a little more confident. Just pushing the knee to that limit, keeping up with guys that are healthy and haven’t had a knee injury. Guys giving me complements on how well I’m moving – that’s really encouraging. I’m excited to not have the pain that I did have, not having to spend as much time on the knee to get it ready for practice – things like that are really encouraging.

Q: Jason Peters complained about Chip Kelly’s practice schedule, said it was really draining. How do you feel his schedule will work out for you?

BOWMAN: I’m sure Chip has heard the rumors and things like that, and I’m sure he has made a few tweaks. Don’t want to have the same comments at the end of this year. But we’re players. We have to go out there and do whatever the coaches ask us to do, and it’s his job to know his team and watch his team and make sure that they’re ready on Sundays to play the game. I think he has done that. I think he has learned from his mistakes if there were some. Looking forward to it.

  1. “I think we have the biggest D-line right now. When you look at that, you see that you want the linebackers to be free and be able to run around and do the things that they’re good at doing”.

    Yes! A thousand times, yes!

  2. Good deal. Bowman sounds like he is ready to play some ball. I am really looking forward to the oncoming season. Even without Williams this defense has potential. We shall see shortly.

  3. Wait! Bowman? Is he still on the team?
    Wasn’t there a call to just cut him last September? ; >)
    I’ll bet his wife remembers………

  4. Guys can be on the on the edge and the outside linebackers can be in our spot. That will be a great, great experience for all of us. I think he has done a great job of letting us know not to key on one position, but to learn all four.

    This could be what some of the Browns players were referencing when complaining about O’Neil’s scheme. From an article last season about the Browns:

    He describes the run defense as “completely chaotic” and quotes one anonymous player as saying, “It’s an entire guessing game. Imagine trying to define mud.”

    Players need to react; not think. Sounds like O’Neil may not have learned from last season.

      1. I am surprised none of your burning camp questions had any defensive content. It wasn’t great last year and could be bad this year too.

      2. Yep, it sure could. The D is the biggest question mark heading into the season. It has more talent than the offense, but its young and in the hands of a guy who’s scheme may require more experienced and disciplined players. It really all comes down to O’Neil, and how he uses his players.

      3. Very well could Grant. The Scheme seems to be more complicated than it needs to be.

        Looking forward to your practice reports.

      4. it’s going to depend on how well the coaching staff teaches the scheme to the players. the talent is there on the D-line (at least at the Ends). I think the benefit the Niners have is that their defense is already used to running a read and react 3-4 scheme. So hopefully the complexity of the defense won’t be as much as an issue as it was for the Browns defense.

    1. Those are actually two completely separate issues, rocket. The complaints about the Browns D were not about where players were lined up. It was all about how the DL assignments weren’t fixed – they were fluid assignments where the player reacted to what was in front of him. The LBs then had to react to what the offense and his DL were doing. Thus chaos. Lets hope he has learned from that.

      1. Understood Scooter. I just saw a parallel between the confusion the Browns players were talking about and how complicated O’Neil seems to make things. I don’t want the defense to be cute; I want it to play fast. You can’t play fast if you are thinking due to playing multiple positions in a system.

        1. I’m sure you do understand, but you were also intentionally misrepresenting the comment as being about the same thing.

          I have no issues with players being moved around to create matchups and confusion for the offense. So long as the assignments are clear and the players don’t have to spend their time worrying about what the player next to them is doing.

          1. No I was not intentionally misrepresenting it. I said this could be what some players were referencing in regards to the complaints about the system. If I’m wrong about the quote in this particular case that’s fine, but don’t throw an accusation like that at me when I clearly said it could be a reason for the complaints last year. There were a number of complaints about O’Neil by players last year and most mentioned complicated and confusion. Asking players to learn multiple positions and play them at certain times in a game can do just that.

            The common theme was misuse of players.

            http://www.clevelandsportszone.com/cleveland-browns-major-changes-need-to-occur-on-defense-during-bye/

            1. Another example from a SI article from last season:

              Indeed, the defense may be too complicated for its own good—something the players have largely failed to address head on. Coordinator Jim O’Neil comes from the Pettine-Rex Ryan lineage, whereby part of the defensive philosophy is to cause pre-snap identification problems for quarterbacks and offensive linemen. It’s a scheme that flourished with the Ravens, Jets and Bills but has so far failed to yield reliable results in Cleveland.

              Simply put, the Browns are spending so much time figuring out ways to trick the offense, they’re leaving themselves little to no margin for error. If it means dropping linebacker Paul Kruger in coverage to fool Peyton Manning, despite the latter being a scheme-identifying genius, Cleveland will do it. In other words, the Browns are so worried about you figuring out their cards, they wind up putting certain players in the wrong position.

              1. “It’s a scheme that flourished with the Ravens, Jets and Bills but has so far failed to yield reliable results in Cleveland.”

                This is the key. The idea of creating confusion in the offense is hardly new, and neither is using your players in a variety of roles to do so. The basis of the scheme has been very successful elsewhere. But it comes down to how you do it. O’Neil created a lot of issues for himself by making the scheme too reactionary in Cleveland.

                Obviously you don’t want to be constantly putting players into positions they aren’t best suited to. That’s stupid. And yes, it sounds like that is something O’Neil did too much of previously. But so long as it is done in moderation, and with clearly defined roles that suit the personnel, moving guys around a bit to create matchups and confuse the offense a bit is not a problem.

              2. I’m not against moving players around and trying to confuse the QB. I’m against forcing a complicated scheme on players who aren’t comfortable enough to play it properly. It’s apparent from the comments made last season that a number of players on the Browns defense didn’t get it. O’Neil is in his first year here and has a short amount of time to install a base defense and sub packages. He has to let the players get comfortable, understand all of their responsibilities and get used to reading and reacting on the fly before forcing them to read off others who may not see the same thing due to lack of cohesion in the system.

          2. Scooter, it is one thing to get complicated to create confusion, but if it creates confusion in the defense, it is just trying to be too cute, with disastrous results.

              1. I think that ONeil is the weak link on the coaching staff. Hope he has learned from his mistakes and has made adjustments.

  5. I am sick and tired AD’s antics. What a drama queen. Unfortunately , RT is a still a big hole. We can use him for the 4-6 games he will actually be active for.

    1. He’s got a lot to prove. Good thing is, Flaherty is a no nonsense OL Coach. He’ll make him prove himself. Desperate times call for desperate measures at the RT position, no doubt about it….

    2. I am jumping for joy. I want to welcome AD back with open arms. Remember, this guy played in 3 NFCC Games and a Super Bowl. He is light years better than Pears. An untested rookie? I snort my derision. AD coming back just made the O line decent, with possibilities of it becoming good. Considering how putrid it was last season, AD should be hailed as a savior.

  6. Rocket,

    I think there’s a wide misconception about what those quotes about the Brown’s defense are about.

    From what I observed when watching film of the Brown’s defense is that the front seven often did not know what they were supposed to be doing. O’Neil’s defense shifts fronts AND schemes. What I mean is that a shifted front might mean that defensive linemen might 2 gap or switch to one gaping (or even a read one gap). But even more than that is that when the run fit scheme changes HOW they fill their gaps changes so that if they do not understand their assignments they may attack the wrong side of the gap (attack the inside of the gap to spill the runner; attack the outside to contain the runner). So the defensive linemen have to know their assignments and from their the linebackers have to adjust their gap assignments, key reads and flow. All this is because O’Neil’s (the Ryan scheme) defense adjusts it’s front and scheme to put their players in the best position to put pressure on the offense. They’re not really guessing…well an educated guess as much as any defense. But if no one knows what they’re doing…you end up with undefined “mud”.

    1. AFFP,

      No one knew what they were doing and that’s the problem. You have to let players play and as they get used to the system you can then throw more curveballs into it and let players build off of what they’ve grown comfortable with.

      Some of the best defenses in this league don’t try to confuse, as much as they just keep it simple and rely on individuals to do their jobs.

      I used a quote that was a different example from the one I referenced in Grant’s article. As I was informed above, that quote was based on the LB’s having to read the DL. I only meant to convey my concern over the fact O’Neil seems to confuse his players and having them learn multiple positions to give different looks during a game could do just that.

      1. Wasn’t this an issue with Mangini’s defense last year? I’m certain that I remember a number of times where Lynch and, I think Brooks as well, were more than 20 yards downfield attempting to defend passes thrown near the goal line. Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but why should we expect things to go better under O’Neill? It doesn’t seem like many defenses that are considered to be “good” play this type of defense.

  7. Niner defense regressed last year. It went from top10 to the cellar. Rawls ran for 252 yards against them. Cleveland was unstoppable.

    The San Francisco 49ers need to get back to playing Niner Football.
    Fangio did not blitz a lot, but was still effective. Blitzing like mad just seems to me to be a sign of desperation. Niners need to be able to get pressure with the front 4, so the rest of the defense can remain disciplined and cohesive. Luckily, the Niners drafted Buckner and Blair, so the defensive line should be improved.The sacking of the Mangenius should help, too.

    I do want more blitzing than what Fangio did, but it should be done judiciously, and unexpectedly. Bow could do more delayed blitzes. and the safeties should blitz against the smurf because he is too slippery for the linemen to corral.

    With a better pass rush, the DBs should do better. My big question mark is the LBs. Niners need to become stout against the run, so I hope Lemonier and Tank can step up and become productive. If Skov, Hodges, Wilhoite or Armstrong can improve and win the starting job, the Niner defense can become feared again, instead of being beaten like a drum.

    The Niners should take a page out of the Ronnie Lott playbook. A defender should grab a hold of the ball carrier, stand him up, and let Reid or Tartt bludgeon him to separate the ball carrier from the ball. O’Neil should have the defenders practice wrapping up, and while doing that, poking at the ball to dislodge it.

    I do not have a ton of confidence in O’Neil, because like Mangenius, he is a former Browns coach, but Azzinaro may help hide his deficiencies. Azzinaro, with his proteges Armstead and Buckner, could wreak havoc on the offenses. Sorry to hear that Williams is out, but I remember how Purcell did great during those goal line stands.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *