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49ers Pick Borland Looks up to NaVorro Bowman

Posted May 9, 2014

The Wisconsin product discussed his affinity for Penn State alum and new teammate NaVorro Bowman, whom he will compete to replace in the starting lineup early next season.

The San Francisco 49ers spent the 77th overall selection (third round) on Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland, who jumped onto a conference call with Bay Area reporters not long after being picked.

Did you have any inkling that you’d go to the 49ers?
“No, I really didn’t know. I met with coach [49ers head coach Jim] Harbaugh and the staff at the combine, but other than that I had no clue.”

You must know their situation at linebacker right now. What are your thoughts of perhaps playing next to LB Patrick Willis early on in the season?
“Well, I expect [LB NaVorro] Bowman to make a comeback. He’s a great player and it’s just still way too early to look that far. I think San Francisco’s got a proven coaching staff and a bunch of proven players on defense. So, I’m just going to find my role and play whatever that is.”

Do you have any experience lately at playing special teams?
“Yeah, I was on our punt team this past season for a little over the first half of the season. So, that was my most recent experience. Prior to that, I played on the kickoff team a little bit in 2013.”

Both of the 49ers inside linebackers, if Bowman’s healthy, are known for their sideline to sideline speed. What would you say your biggest strengths are as that inside linebacker?
“I’ve always felt like I’ve got a great feel for the game. I really approach it as a student and I try to know everything I can. I think that really shows on my film. Take great angles, understand what the offense is trying to do and what we’re trying to do defensively, so that’s my strong suit.”

When will you be able to move out here full-time?
“I’m not quite sure yet. I don’t have anything holding me back. I don’t have a girlfriend and I don’t have anything else going on. So, the number one priority is to get out to San Francisco and to get to work as soon as possible.”

As far as the final exams, have they taken place at Wisconsin?
“I graduated in December, so that’s not an issue.”

So, you can be here on Monday?

Do you want us to advertise the fact that you don’t have a girlfriend yet?
“No, don’t worry about that. I’ll figure that out.”

Are you an admirer of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman? Have you had a chance to watch them play much, and if you have, what’s your take on how those two guys work together?
“I’m very much an admirer of the way those guys play the game. I’ve gotten a chance, Bowman was at Penn State while I was at Wisconsin, so I obviously looked up to him as a young player in the (Big Ten) Conference. Then we’ve gotten a little bit of exposure to those guys and that defense when we had a switch to 3-4. We watched some of their film. We actually implemented a few things the Niners do on defense. So, they’re two of the best in the league and I’m looking forward to learning from them.”

Are your schemes similar?
“We had a lot of different wrinkles in our scheme and I know we just put in a few pressures that they had. But, absolutely as far as those individual pressures themselves they’re ones that we got from the Niners.”

The Niners ask their inside backers to do quite a bit of pass coverage. Has that been a strength for you? Is that something that you do a lot of at Wisconsin?
“Well, I didn’t do a lot of it at Wisconsin. I rushed the passer a lot. But, I think that was because of my skills as a pass rusher not because of any deficiency. I think I showed at the Senior Bowl that I’m a more than capable coverage linebacker and I’m excited to show that in the NFL.”

Did you rush the passer from the outside in that 3-4 ever?
“In the 3-4 it was more up the middle. We had a package that was I guess 3-3-5 a couple seasons ago and out of that package I rushed off the edge. But, this past year it was more up the middle.”


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