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49ers LB Gerald Hodges Details Unique Friendship with NaVorro Bowman

"The Revenant" earned a high score on Rotten Tomatoes from the San Francisco 49ers linebacker movie club.

Yes, you read that right.

Gerald Hodges and NaVorro Bowman have been using their downtime this offseason to watch movies and strengthen their bond when they're not taking part in Chip Kelly's first practices as 49ers head coach.

"We're big movie people," Hodges said during a recent appearance on the 49ers Radio podcast. "We'll leave here and watch movies for hours."

Beyond the engaging visuals and never-say-die lessons of the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, Hodges explained that movie sessions involve a strict selection process.

"They have to be good movies," he said. "They can't be any movies. They have to make us think."

Such is the life for two NFL linebackers who find ways to improve even when they're not wrapping their minds around Jim O'Neil's defensive playbook.

"It's football season," Hodges said. "So when we leave here, (it's time to) relax, beat the playbook up and enjoy ourselves."

Hodges, whom the 49ers acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings last October, has made a concerted effort to revamp his offseason preparation work. Hodges has latched on to his Penn State role model. From hot yoga training sessions to attending the Nittany Lions spring game together, Hodges said Bowman's been willing to help at every turn.

"It's been amazing to have a chance to be around him and see how he works … see how he became great," said Hodges, who recorded 39 tackles in the final four weeks of the 2015 regular season for the 49ers.

Hodges went on to reflect on his first encounters with Bowman in 2009 back in State College, Penn. Hodges saw action as a true freshman at PSU. Meanwhile, Bowman recorded 93 tackles and went on to be a third-round selection by San Francisco.

When asked about his earliest memories of playing with the 49ers All-Pro, Pro Bowl linebacker, Hodges took a moment to ponder his answer.

"I really don't know what a young NaVorro is like, because he's always been NaVorro," Hodges said. "Even when I got there, he was always mature.

"He's always been the same guy. That's what you want as a leader. That's what you want from a linebacker; you want someone who is the same guy. From the time he took off to the NFL to the time I was traded here, he hasn't changed a bit."

Hodges followed Bowman's NFL career closely from afar.

"Any time him and Patrick (Willis) had a chance to play, I was right there watching," Hodges said. "That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to create my game around their game and take my game to the next level."

As teammates on the 49ers, Hodges makes sure to pay close attention to the qualities that have enabled Bowman to be a three-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro player.

"I see the way he walks, the way he talks, the way he commands the defense," Hodges explained. "He has the stature that, 'I'm the captain of this defense and this is how it's going to be.' That's what I study the most."

The San Francisco 49ers held a voluntary minicamp prior to the 2016 NFL Draft.

Hodges has an opportunity to compete for a starting 'backer position next to Bowman in San Francisco's 3-4 defensive scheme. The 49ers also have linebackers Michael Wilhoite, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Shayne Skov and Nick Bellore as veteran options in the mix for playing time.

For Hodges, the camaraderie amongst the players in the linebacker room is as enjoyable as movie nights.

"That's another level of fun right there," the fifth-year pro said. "If you're a guy who loves to compete, then you're having a blast the entire time. There's nothing like it."

Last week on "49ers Live," Bowman referred to Hodges as the funniest player on the roster. In response, Hodges said he enjoys being someone to lighten the mood in the locker room.

"I try to keep my jokes to a minimum to just in the locker room with the guys, because when I get on the field, my teammates and coaches know I'm all business," Hodges shared.

But that doesn't mean the practice sessions haven't been upbeat in nature.

"Every day we enjoy being around each other," Hodges said. "We enjoy being around the coaches, especially when they're smiling … we just want to keep that feeling going because at the end of the day, that feeling is going to lead to us winning and this thing back on a roll."

Sounds like the perfect script for a movie night.

Bowman credited Hodges as being the funniest players on the roster. Hodges, in defense, said he enjoys being someone to lighten the mood in the locker room.

For one, I'm around him almost 24/7. Outside of the facility and inside, we hang out almost every day. I keep him laughing. I'm a jokester. I try to keep my jokes to a minimum to just in the locker room with the guys, because when I get on the field, my teammates and coaches know I'm all business.


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