Sports Out West

49ers’ Navorro Bowman doesn’t get the credit he deserves

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The NFL Network continued its Top 100 list with players No. 50-41 recently, and there was at least one glaring surprise to say the least. San Francisco 49ers linebacker Navorro Bowman came in at 47, dropping 10 spots from last year.

If you want to say that the ACL injury Bowman suffered in the NFL Championship game played a part in the fall, that might hold some merit, but it appears that this is just another snub for a defensive stalwart that may not be getting the credit he deserves.  

Bowman was dominant in 2013, racking up 145 tackles to go along with five sacks. He forced six turnovers (four fumbles and two interceptions) and his 89-yard interception return for a touchdown in Week 16 may have been the biggest play for the 49ers all season. He was also named Defensive Player of the Month for his performance in December. During that time he was the only player in the last 20 years to record at least 45 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, an interception return for a touchdown, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in one calendar month.

For all of his accomplishments, he didn’t even get consideration for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Carolina Panthers inside linebacker Luke Kuechly won the honor with 13 votes and was followed by Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis with 11.5. Other players receiving votes were Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas (7.5), St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn (6), Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman (4), and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (2). While it’s hard to argue against any of these players, it’s mind-boggling that Bowman wasn’t at least in the conversation.  

This isn’t to say that Bowman hasn’t received some accolades. He’s been a First-Team All-Pro every season from 2011-2013, and made the Pro Bowl twice. That’s something, until you consider the fact that he was a Pro Bowl snub in 2011, when he was First-Team All-Pro.

Maybe the lack of recognition is because inside linebackers don’t get the sexy stats like pass rushers do or cornerbacks do. Although Kuechly, who also plays inside, recorded 24 tackles in a game against the New Orleans Saints which got him national attention.

It’s also possible that Bowman may lose some spotlight because he is playing next to a future Hall of Famer in Patrick Willis. Willis is widely regarded as the best inside linebacker in the NFL and has made the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven seasons. He’s been a First-Team All-Pro five times and won the 2007 Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

At the end of the day, the 49ers and fans of the team know how valuable Bowman is. While it’s nice to get recognition for your play, everyone involved would be content with Bowman continuing to dominate without the fanfare if it brings the success of 2011-2013.

 Photo: Christian Peterson/Getty Image

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Al Sacco

Al Sacco is sports expert who knows football, baseball, basketball and hockey. He has spent his time as a sports journalist covering the San Francisco 49ers as a staff writer for 49erswebzone.com and 49ersgab.com. He is also a contributor to Yahoo! Voices and has had his work used on ESPN NFL Insiders.