The All-Pro linebacker suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in San Francisco's NFC Championship game loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Bowman has already undergone surgery, and the team is taking a cautious approach with their long-term investment; Bowman is signed through the 2018 season.
Harbaugh said he isn't counting out Bowman from being ready ahead of schedule, but the 49ers coach is also concentrating on doing what's best for one of the top defensive players in the NFL.
“Halfway through the season or something like that would be more realistic,” the 49ers coach said of Bowman's timetable for a return.
Harbaugh was also quick to point out that Bowman should never be ruled out from doing anything.
“He’s just a supreme athlete, a world-class athlete among other world-class athletes,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll take good care of him. That would be the smart thing, wouldn’t it?”
Despite having his team’s leading tackler on the mend for the offseason, Harbaugh took a lot of pride in how Bowman was inspirational in an adverse moment.
Just wanna say Thank You for everyone's support it sucks not going to lie but I will get through this it's in Gods hands now.— Navorro Bowman (@NBowman53) January 21, 2014
When people interact with the 49ers coach this offseason, more times than not, they’re mentioning how Bowman displayed toughness and courage against Seattle. When Bowman was struck initially at the goal line after forcing a fumble against the Seahawks, he held on to the football, even when his lower leg buckled in the wrong direction.
“You could see his face grimace, but he wasn’t going to let his team down and have the ball come loose when he went to the ground,” Harbaugh said. “It was probably one of the most inspirational things I’ve seen in football.”
The play resonated especially with Harbaugh’s brother-in-law, Tom Crean, head coach of Indiana's basketball team.
Crean showed the video of Bowman’s play to his Hoosiers squad recently.
“That’s quite an accomplishment,” Harbaugh said.
2014 SCOUTING COMBINE: