49ers Remain Hopeful for a NaVorro Bowman Return

Taking a break from their preparation for Sunday's Bay Area showdown with the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and offensive coordinator Greg Roman met with the media on Thursday to discuss a variety of topics.

Here are a few of the major storylines, including new information on a pair of key defensive players the team hopes to add down the stretch.

Bowman, Dorsey Updates

The 49ers have to decide by Tuesday whether to active rehabbing linebacker NaVorro Bowman (knee) or keep him sidelined for the remainder of the season.

Bowman, currently in the final week of his 21-day practice window, has yet to actually begin practicing and won't until next week at the earliest. That means that San Francisco would have to clear a 53-man roster spot for the veteran even though he wouldn't play in games right away.

Still, despite time running out, neither the 49ers nor Bowman have lost hope.

"I don't think he's given up, nor has anybody else," Fangio said. "But the schedule, obviously, is drying up."

Fangio reiterated that Bowman has not experienced any setbacks yet.

"I think everything's fine as far as rehab goes," Fangio said. "I just think it's 10 months out from the operation, and it was a serious operation."

As for nose tackle Glenn Dorsey (forearm), Fangio sounded a bit more optimistic about his progress.

"He is getting better," Fangio said. "The area around his injury is improving, and I do think we see a light at the end of the tunnel."

With Ian Williams on Injured Reserve, Quinton Dial has started at nose tackle the last three games.

Fangio to Recruit 'Cowboy'

Earlier this week, veteran defensive tackle Justin Smith told reporters that he hadn't thought about his plans for next year and whether or not he would return for a 15th NFL season.

After being relayed those comments, Fangio announced that he would try to persuade Smith into coming back for another campaign. 

"If I have to go to Missouri and drink a beer with him, I'll do that," Fangio said. "I actually see a better player than last year because of the health. And I'm sure he's down a decibel or two from where he was in 2011, but not very much. It would be a shame if he did retire for all of us because he's still playing at a very high level."

Through Week 13, Smith is tied for the team lead in sacks and forced fumbles with five and two, respectively. Smith is a five-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro. Among active players, he is ninth in sacks with 87.

"Expect him to make the Pro Bowl again, and expect you guys (reporters) to lead the charge five years from when he's done playing to get him up in Canton (the Hall of Fame)," Fangio said.

Kap Thrives off of Adversity

Coming off of a season-low (121 yards) passing performance against the Seattle Seahawks, Colin Kaepernick will look to rebound versus the 49ers cross-bay rivals.

"Everybody has their own way of working their way through things, and the beauty of Colin is he's his own harshest critic," Roman said. "When we have a rough game as an offense, he usually comes back out swinging for the fence and pretty dialed in."

Following San Francisco's last loss, a Week 9 defeat to the St. Louis Rams, Kaepernick threw for 210 yards and a touchdown, adding 24 yards on the ground in the team's 27-24 win over the New Orleans Saints.

"He's a very competitive guy," Roman said. "He wants to win, that's his ultimate goal as a football player. And when we fall short of that, he takes that tough."

Roman added that in the Seahawks game, the plan called for more Kaepernick designed runs, but "the way things unfolded minimized those opportunities a little bit."

Kaepernick ended up with 17 of San Francisco's 64 rushing yards.

Gold Nuggets

1.One position on offense that hasn't quite been firing on all cylinders this season is tight end. Roman was asked if more play-action passes would help Vernon Davis and company find more open space.

"I definitely think really all of them, really the entire offense benefits from a good play-action game," Roman said. "We've definitely been there, and we've just got to keep chopping wood in that area because it all works together."

2.Rookie linebacker Chris Borland picked up another honor on Thursday when he was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month for November. Has Fangio been surprised by the rookie's immediate impact?

"I think anytime a rookie comes in and has some success there is some element of surprise to it," Fangio said. "But at the same time, the guy was an excellent player in college. Everybody starts picking at these guys as the draft process lingers on – lack of height, short arms, this, that and the other things. But if you just watch the tape, he was an excellent player."

3.After missing Oakland's Week 13 game against the Rams, running back Latavius Murray (concussion) has been cleared to play Sunday versus the 49ers.

"He's big and fast, number one," Fangio said. "He broke that 90-yarder against the Chiefs a couple of weeks ago, which really was a huge play in that game. And you can see his speed. Once he got through the line, there was nobody that was going to catch him. He runs powerful for a guy with his size and speed, so he's a legitimate running back."

4.Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr has only been sacked 15 times this season, which is tied for the fourth fewest in the league among full-time starters.

"He has a good feel for the rush," Fangio said. "They throw a lot of quick game and a lot of play-action game. I think he knows where to go with the ball if he's under duress. I think he's got good pocket instincts."

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