Coming off of a tough couple weeks on the gridiron, the San Francisco 49ers were in a need of a bit of good news.
The team got that boost on Tuesday – even if it came with a caveat.
Eleven months after suffering a gruesome knee injury in the NFC Championship game, veteran linebacker NaVorro Bowman was activated to the 53-man roster from the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform List.
Despite steady progress in his rehab, Bowman isn't ready to return to practice yet, but Tuesday's move kept open the possibility that the All-Pro could play this season.
"I'm going to get out there when I feel 100 percent; let's be clear on that," Bowman said. "I think I'm at the point where I'm doing everything the doctors asked me to do. But I think the football aspect is needed for me to just be confident in the knee and running around and break this last (barrier) that I have in my knee."
When Bowman is cleared to resume football activities, he'll be gradually brought up to speed. As defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has stated in recent months, the plan is for Bowman to practice for at least a week or two before potentially seeing game action.
Although there's obvious urgency to win the final three games of the regular season, the last thing the team wants is to rush the star 'backer back and risk further injury.
"I'm glad that everyone cares about me, not just this season or this game," Bowman said. "They want to make sure I'm 100 percent and able to live out my career.
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"Of course I want to be out there if I'm ready to go. It just comes to if I'm ready. Once I'm out there, I don't know how to go slow. I just know one speed. (The doctors) just want to make sure they control me up to that point."
During his candid interview session with the media on Tuesday, Bowman acknowledged that the rehab has been an arduous and, at times, a seemingly never-ending process. But at no point has Bowman considered shutting down for the season and focusing on 2015.
"Anyone that dedicates as much time as I have to this game will miss it," he said. "It's really like losing a family member. It's that much (of a) part of me. I wake up, I think about football; I breathe it. My son is 5 now and says, 'Daddy, when you going to play?' That's really hitting home with me because I really want him to see how hard daddy works."
Bowman mentioned fellow 49ers linebacker Joe Staley as someone who has helped him push through the hard times. He's also drawn inspiration from players who have battled back from severe injuries.
"I've just worked, dealt with the injury and accepted it," Bowman said. "(I) looked at other guys overcoming their injury and always said to myself, 'If that person can do it, I can do it.' That's what really drove me.
"I never said I was going to throw in the towel and not come back and play. If it felt good, it felt good. If it didn't, hopefully people understand. But it's feeling great, and I'm excited to be back out there."