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NaVorro Bowman Ready to 'Play for Real' on MNF

The countdown has reached five days until the San Francisco 49ers host the Los Angeles Rams on "Monday Night Football."

NaVorro Bowman, for one, is beyond ready for the return of regular season football.

"A lot of guys are itching to go out and play for real," the linebacker said in a recent sit-down interview with 49ers Studios.

One of the marquee matchups in the Week 1 NFC West clash will be Bowman versus Rams star running back Todd Gurley. The second-year ball-carrier posted 1,106 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie in 2015.

Gurley and Bowman are sure to see plenty of each other on Monday.

"It's a huge test," Bowman said. "He's a good running back in this league – up-and-coming – and I'm sure he's excited about it, too."

The Rams talented runner isn't the only one coming off of a standout season. Bowman also shined in 2015, leading the NFL in tackles while being named All-Pro for a fourth time. The linebacker didn't put a number on his personal goals for 2016 outside of his hopes for a continued clean bill of health.

Bowman and the rest of his teammates will have plenty of time to kill before Monday's 7:00 p.m. PT kickoff. Bowman explained that his afternoon will be filled with rest, relaxation, an afternoon nap and one final review of the gameplan.

Then the switch flips when he leaves the team hotel – it's time to become, "The #MON5T3R."

"When I walk into Levi's, or any stadium, I'm ready to go," Bowman said, smiling.

Monday will be our first glimpse of Jim O'Neil's defense in regular season action. Bowman has had constant praise for his new defensive coordinator throughout the preseason. The admiration is mutual. 

O'Neil explained during training camp that Bowman has taken on a "follow me or else" leadership style.

"He's not far off," the linebacker said. "I'm a lead-by-example type of guy. I let my play bring the talking out of me."

Bowman described San Francisco's defense as "smart," and he explained that he's eager to see how their tireless preparation translates against the Rams. As far as individual standouts, the linebacker tabbed the entire defensive line as a group that has played well leading up to the season opener.

Check out some of the best moments from NaVorro Bowman's eight-year tenure with the 49ers.

The men up front have eaten up blockers and allowed Bowman to run free during both practice and exhibition contests.

"Those are some big guys," he said. "If they continue to get better every week, they'll be mentioned as one of the best d-lines this year."

Bowman also mentioned the team's two most recent first-round picks. Arik Armstead nursed a shoulder injury in August, but that didn't stop him from making a positive impression on San Francisco's defensive leader. 

"He's confident," Bowman said of Armstead, who recorded two sacks as a rookie in 2015. "He's understanding when he can use his athletic ability and when he has to play team defense and eat up a block. … You put your game into the scheme, and I think he's understanding that."

The linebacker then moved on to DeForest Buckner, the seventh-overall pick in 2016.

"He's a big guy, and he definitely knows how to use his body," Bowman said. "It's about getting guys to understand the type of football (played) in the NFL. That's the challenge for young guys, and I'm here to help."

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