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49ers to Disguise Coverages vs. Luck

Posted Sep 19, 2013

NaVorro Bowman said disguising coverages will be key this week against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.

NaVorro Bowman enjoys a good challenge.

Each week in the National Football League, the 49ers linebacker expects to be tested. Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts is no different. Bowman, the two-time All-Pro inside linebacker, is eager to face the latest opponent on the schedule and the quarterback in particular.

“I’m excited to face a great quarterback and one of Coach Harbaugh's protégés,” Bowman said on Wednesday, referring to former Stanford quarterback and No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Andrew Luck.

READ: LUCK TO FACE FORMER COLLEGE COACHES

To start the season, the 49ers have faced two of the top signal-callers in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks.

In both games, Bowman has led the 49ers in tackles and he recorded his second career fumble recovery against the Packers to force San Francisco’s first takeaway of the season. By the NFL’s count, Bowman has 19 tackles, putting him in a six-way tie for ninth place in the league’s tackle leaders. However, by the count of the 49ers coaches, Bowman has 28 tackles.

The fourth-year linebacker’s tackling numbers aren’t a surprise considering he’s led the team in the stat category over the past two seasons. Bowman said he wanted to become better in coverage entering this season and continues to find himself being challenged by the top passers in the NFL.

It’s not a problem though.

“If you face the best early in the season, that leaves room for you to improve later on in the season,” Bowman said.

Coming off a Week 2 loss to Seattle, Bowman felt like the 49ers defense played well at times, but couldn’t make enough plays to turn the tide in San Francisco’s favor. Bowman led the 49ers with 15 tackles, including a memorable tackle on Wilson where he chased the speedy quarterback from out of the pocket and brought him down with a jarring tackle in front of the 49ers bench.

“I think we did a good job,” Bowman said. “It’s just one of those games, where both phases of the team aren't working at the same time. I thought we were playing well early in the game and in the second half our offense came along.

“But that’s what you have to do. You have to start off fast and play together and be on the same page. We’ll try to get that done this week.”

The challenge of stopping Luck is not lost on Bowman. The inside linebacker was asked about the weapons on the Colts offense, but keep in mind, it was hours before Indianapolis traded for Browns running back Trent Richardson.

Bowman felt like the key to stopping the Colts was centered on Luck.

“It’s really just No. 12,” Bowman said. “I feel like they feed off of him and he runs pretty much every phase.”

It’s not known how much Richardson will play this week, if he even plays at all. Richardson has reported to Indianapolis and will likely be given a crash course on his new playbook. The second-year running back is a former No. 3 overall pick and can present a hard-running threat to compliment Luck’s pocker-passing skills.

READ: HARBAUGH GOES BACK WITH LUCK, KAEPERNICK

Even so, Bowman’s focus on Wednesday was about not giving any pre-snap tips to Luck, the cerebral quarterback, who learned many of his play-making skills from Harbaugh, the 49ers head man.

“We know that he likes to get our looks early before the ball is snapped,” Bowman said of the second-year quarterback who made a Pro Bowl as a rookie. “We’re going to have to do a good job holding our coverages and holding our disguises. That's pretty much the challenge for us, making sure Andrew doesn't know what we’re in.”

Bowman feels like Luck’s way advanced for a second-year quarterback.

“He's smart,” the 49ers linebacker said. “You don’t really get too many guys that are able to do what he is able to do at the line as a young guy. So they benefit from that. They 49ers veterans, we understand that. So we have to do a good job with the snap.”

The 49ers will have an extended scouting report this week on Luck. Not just from Harbaugh, but defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was on the Stanford staff in 2010.

Bowman felt like the 49ers would use that to their advantage.

“We’ll try to utilize tips,” he said.