NaVorro Bowman Ready to 'Start from Scratch', Earn His Stripes in 2017

NaVorro Bowman's tune hasn't changed since leaving for summer break. The San Francisco 49ers linebacker is still fully embracing the "what have you done for me lately" nature of the NFL.

Bowman spoke to reporters on Thursday when players reported for camp. On Friday, he and the rest of the 90-man roster took the practice field for the first time since returning to team headquarters.

The linebacker enters 2017 after enduring a season-ending Achilles injury a year go, but Bowman's rehab process seems like a distant memory. Bowman has been full-go all the way back to the start of the offseason program. 

"I've been full speed," Bowman reiterated. "I've done everything. The Achilles is fine. I'm not worried about that."

The focus is squarely on leading the 49ers defense like he's done since 2015. One of Bowman's newest understudies is first-round pick Reuben Foster, who just practiced with the full team for the first time on Friday.

"We've seen what he's done in college, we just want to transfer it here to the NFL," Bowman said of Foster. "He's open to learning new things, and that's what he'll need to get to that point. I think he'll have a successful career."

But Bowman will also be working to retain his role as San Francisco's starting MIKE linebacker. John Lynch told KNBR a few weeks ago that he expects to see Bowman play an extended period when preseason games roll around. There won't be a "pitch count" for Bowman like he's seen in past summers. The 49ers new regime needs to see what they have in the veteran linebacker, just like every other player.

And that's OK with Bowman. He won't shy away from a larger-than-normal role in exhibition play.

"I just look forward to playing," he said. "I'm going to put the work in and be ready to go. It's time for me to do what I know I can do. The accolades I've earned don't mean anything. I'm starting from scratch. I'm hungry."

The rest of the locker room shares Bowman's sentiments. It's a group of 90 players eager to make the final 53-man roster and prove that the 49ers have turned the page from a 2-14 record in 2016.

"We've all been talking about it," Bowman said. "You can feel the energy. Guys are glad training camp is here. We're ready to go to work. Guys understand what Kyle (Shanahan) is asking of us. … We want to see it all come together."

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