The competitive juices were flowing for NaVorro Bowman on "Monday Night Football."
The San Francisco 49ers linebacker made his long-awaited return to regular season football against the Minnesota Vikings. In doing so, the two-time All-Pro who was coming off major knee surgery, was also focused on limiting the production of one of the NFL's best running backs, Adrian Peterson.
Bowman won the battles twofold in his first regular season appearance inside of Levi's® Stadium.
San Francisco sent Minnesota packing with a 20-3 loss. Bowman also recorded seven tackles and a sack on a night where Peterson was held to 10 carries and 31 rushing yards.
"I think guys were really up for this game," said Bowman, who last started in the 2013 NFC Championship Game in Seattle. "I'm sure Adrian will get a lot better throughout the season. It's his first game in a long time. We want to show respect to the opponent also, but we started from the bottom and worked our way with a new coaching staff, a new playbook and things like that.
"We had a lot of doubters, and I think people see we're about business."
Bowman's crew stymied Peterson and Minnesota's offense for most of the Week 1 contest. The NFL's league MVP in 2012 picked up 14 yards in the first half and only mustered 17 yards in the final 30 minutes of action.
"I couldn't really get into a rhythm," Peterson said. "Offensively, we couldn't keep the drives going."
Bowman credited the sound defensive performance, which included an interception and stops on eight of nine third-down attempts for the Vikings, to the creative play-calling from Eric Mangini and sound execution from his defensive teammates.
"He knows what he's doing," the inside 'backer said of Mangini. "I've been saying since day one: We've got a lot of variety in this defense. No matter what the offense is doing, we have an answer for it. He's trusted us to take on everything he's thrown at us."
In turn, the coaches allow Bowman to lead the defense at a high level.
"You can't say enough about NaVorro Bowman," Jim Tomsula said. "Obviously, what he's overcome and you respect that. And, he's a great player. But again, one of the things I respect most about NaVorro is the way he plays team defense, and he's playing with the guys. You see him running rubs and different things so other people can make plays off of him. That's unselfish play and that, to me, is what I admire the most."
Bowman has no problem doing the little things on gameday. All of his selfless acts added up to his unit containing the Vikings for most of the night. Minnesota totaled 17 first downs, five of them were picked up on the ground.
"Leading by example is really the best way to get a group of guys on the same page," Bowman said. "That's basically what I tried to do leading up to this point."
The veteran linebacker called Monday's performance "a great stepping stone" for the 49ers defense.
Bowman will look to continue embracing the added responsibilities he's taking on in San Francisco's scheme.
"It's fun to be as active as I have to be out there in a football game," Bowman said. "That's what you live for as a linebacker."
After his a competitive outing on a primetime stage, Bowman didn't spend much time, if any, reflecting on what's next for him.
"I just want to get through the year and week by week, continue to get better and more confident with my knee," Bowman said.