NaVorro Bowman has quite the history with the Seattle Seahawks.
An upcoming Week 7 matchup on "Thursday Night Football" marks the first time the San Francisco 49ers linebacker has faced the NFC West rival since he suffered a career-altering knee injury in the 2013 NFC title game. Prior to the ACL injury he suffered on that fateful day, Bowman had recorded 15 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble in the Pacific Northwest.
Bowman has since triumphantly returned to the field to record 59 tackles, which ranks tied for second in the NFL through six regular season games this season. San Francisco will look to utilize Bowman's tackling skills against a violent runner, Marshawn Lynch.
"It's very important," Bowman told Seattle beat writers in a Tuesday conference call. "He's a back that's put his staple on the NFL for several years. We understand the type of attention that he deserves so we're definitely preparing for that."
Without Bowman on the field last season, Lynch rushed for 104 and 91 yards in a pair of victories for the Seahawks. Bowman, a sixth-year pro, knows all too well how games against Seattle typically play out.
"They're physical," Bowman said. "It's an NFC West matchup, there's a lot of things at stake, and we really enjoy the fight that it brings on the field and with the fans also."
Bowman admitted that the divisional matchup is different in the sense that San Francisco has changed defensively with new personnel in the starting lineup.
"Everyone understands that we can't use that as an excuse, we've got to get on the same page," the linebacker said. "I think we got that shown to us early on in the season, and it's a challenge for us. I think me and Ahmad Brooks are probably the only two guys from the 2011 defense to now, so it's a challenge for us but we're looking forward to the battle."
Much of the talk in San Francisco this week has been centered on whether or not Bowman will be given occasional snaps off to not overwhelm his lower body. Bowman played all 77 snaps in the Week 6 home victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Defensive coordinator Eric Mangini said it's possible that Michael Wilhoite could play Bowman's linebacker position in the dime defensive alingment and recently acquired Gerald Hodges could factor in that scheme depending on how he's progressed in practice.
"It's trying to find a balance and then finding the right guy," Mangini said. "There's the communication component too, because he calls the plays, so when that guy goes in you're signaling as opposed to radioing in."
Bowman means a great deal to the defense. Even when he wasn't on the field for last season's home game against Seattle, Bowman spoke passionately in the pregame huddle to help motivate his team.
This go around, however, Bowman will be making the same passionate speech with his full uniform on. Soon after, Bowman will get a chance to compete against Russell Wilson like old times.
When asked about the key to stopping the Seahawks, Bowman was quick to mention the opposing quarterback.
"It starts with number 3," Bowman said. "He makes a lot of plays, extended plays, getting the ball down field, so we're going to have to try to keep him in the pocket as much as possible and stay covering down on the receivers, and hope we can pass rush and things like that can get there."
Seattle has given up a league-high 26 sacks so far this year. It's one of the factors that led the division rivals to start 2-4 after reaching the Super Bowl last season.
With both teams at 2-4 looking to make a move in a competitive division, Bowman doesn't see any difference in the physicality needed in this year's rivalry game compared to previous seasons. "It's always going to be a special game between the two of us," he said.