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Bowman, 49ers Defense Limit Bradford, Rams

Posted Sep 26, 2013

With Patrick Willis on the sideline, middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman played with the power of two men in San Francisco's big win in St. Louis.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio doesn’t dial up the blitz all the time. Doing that would lessen its effectiveness. But Fangio knows his linebackers and defensive backs like to rush the passer. So he tells them that as long as the blitzes produce results, he’ll keep calling them.

It’s a catch-22 challenge for No. 53.

“So I got to keep making ‘em work,” 49ers middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman said.

That he did on Thursday night. Wreaking havoc in the backfield, Bowman recorded two sacks and forced a fumble in San Francisco’s 35-11 drubbing of the St. Louis Rams.

The fourth-year pro had two sacks total in each of the last two seasons.

“When he calls the blitz, he expects us to beat the (the block of the running) back,” said Bowman, who made five tackles overall. “If it’s successful, he’ll keep calling it and that’s what happened tonight.”

The prime example: Bowman bursting through the Rams backfield and into quarterback Sam Bradford on St. Louis’ second drive of the fourth quarter. The ball skidded to the 3-yard line, where defensive lineman Tony Jerod-Eddie fell on it, setting up Anthony Dixon’s ensuing, insurance-providing touchdown.

“I was trying to get up and crawl to get that ball,” Bowman said “I saw (Demarcus) Dobbs try to get it, he didn’t get it either.”

It was a whale of a game and of the ilk promised to Trent Baalke, his general manager, earlier in the day.

“When I woke up this morning, I told my GM, ‘I’m going to get this win for you,’” Bowman said in his TV interview.

The timing couldn’t have been better. With outside linebacker Aldon Smith away from the team indefinitely and fellow inside ‘backer Patrick Willis (groin) on the sideline, Bowman took on the lien share. He said there were many motivations entering the team’s Week 4 matchup.

“Not wanting to lose three games (in a row), facing a division opponent, remembering the game here last year,” Bowman said, referencing a 16-13 overtime loss on Dec. 2, before continuing, “playing for Aldon, playing for Pat.

“I like to look at myself as raise the game if a link gets taken out of the chain, someone has to step up. I just played my game."

Still, the Penn State product shared the credit, saying that Michael Wilhoite (Willis’ replacement) as well as Corey Lemonier and Dan Skuta (Smith’s replacements) acquitted themselves well in their first extended action of the young season.

“Did well, there was no miscommunication out there, no missed assignments,” Bowman said “That all started with practice."

It ended in the game, where the numbers bear out the unit’s success: The Rams converted three of 17 third-down conversions; picked up seven yards in the third quarter; and finished the game with only 25 more yards as a unit, 188, than 49ers running back Frank Gore rushed for, 153.

“This was,” Bowman said, “satisfying.”


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