DENVER -- Last week against the Dallas Cowboys, NaVorro Bowman gave San Francisco 49ers fans a brief glimpse of what he's capable of now that he's healthy again.
Saturday night in Denver, the star linebacker's abilities were on full display for the entire first half. Although the 49ers lost the game to the Broncos, 19-12, Bowman proved that he's well on his way to returning to the form that earned him the nickname of "All-Pro Bo."
No one was certain how much playing time the linebacker would see in Denver. After all, head coach Jim Tomsula said that Bowman wouldn't have played more than five snaps against the Cowboys.
So, with each new defensive series of the first two quarters, all eyes were on No. 53 as he continued to take the field with the rest of the first-team unit.
Tomsula said postgame that the goal was to reevaluate how much Bowman would play after the first 10 defensive snaps. When the linebacker was off to such a hot start, Tomsula loosened the leash on Bowman's rep count.
"He was just having a blast and it was right," Tomsula said. "We let it go to the half, and I told him it wouldn't go past the half. He would have played all day if we let him."
A banner 30-minutes of play resulted in Bowman recording nine tackles and two sacks of Peyton Manning.
For what appeared to be a stellar performance to the rest of us was just another step in the right direction for Bowman, who said he's capable of doing even more.
"I just know me and there are some plays that I could have made," Bowman said. "That's what I mean by that, just selling out all the way and not thinking about it. I'll do that when the time comes."
Bowman's contribution began immediately, as he recorded a tackle on the second play of the game to help the 49ers defense force a swift three-and-out.
The Broncos second offensive drive was when the linebacker really wreaked havoc. On one first-down play, Bowman sacked Manning on a blitz up the middle. Three plays later, Bowman predicted the snap perfectly and was in Manning's face the second the quarterback got his hands on the football.
On both sacks, Bowman wasn't touched by a Broncos offensive lineman. The linebacker said he takes pride in being able to pick up on a quarterback's snap count and give an offense different looks when he comes on a blitz.
"That's one of the things that makes you a great linebacker," Bowman said. "(To be) a great blitzer, you have to be able to pick up on the cadences that the quarterbacks use to mess with you. When you can time it up, the pass rush ability comes natural for me, so if a lineman can't get a read on me when I'm blitzing, I'm likely to make a play."
After the game, Bowman and Manning shared words of mutual admiration. Bowman said Manning wished him good luck this season and called him, "a heck of a player."
The next test for Bowman will be coming out for the second half after resting for 15-20 minutes during the halftime break.
That test, however, will not come next Thursday against the San Diego Chargers in the team's preseason finale, a game in which Bowman likely won't play at all. That means his first second-half action will come Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Bowman is ready for the challenge.
"Once I get it loose I'm ready to go," Bowman said. "We will find out Monday night."