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.