"You make a prediction and that's basically based on these guys, these athletes, these super-fit, almost super-human the way they rehabilitate themselves, and they come back from injury, it's not the normal guy by any means," Harbaugh told reporters. "NaVorro is a cream of the crop of the athletes…I'm very hopeful. Very optimistic…nothing would surprise me if its's sooner than that."
ESPN's Bill Williamson reported that Bowman has been making strides towards his recovery, as the fifth-year pro has started running and soon hopes to begin making cuts during his rehabilitation.
Bowman tore his ACL in January during the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game against the eventual Super Bowl Champions, Seattle Seahawks.
It was certainly seen as a devastating injury at the time, with some speculating that Bowman would miss the entire 2014 season due to its severity, but also taking into account how late in the season it occurred.
As expected, the 49ers placed Bowman on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list on Wednesday, the first official day of training camp for the Niners. He will likely start the season on the PUP list which would make the Penn State product ineligible for the first six games of the season.
In the mean time, third-year pro Michael Wilhoite will look to be the primary replacement while Bowman sits out. However nothing motivates a player more than healthy competition. Rookie third-round pick Chris Borland, undrafted free agent rookie Shayne Skov and second-player Nick Moody all hope to be in the mix for snaps.
Regardless of the outcome, replacing Bowman's production will likely be unattainable. Just from a statistical outlook, Bowman accumulated 145 tackles (120 solo), five sacks, eight pass deflections and two interceptions, with one being returned for a touchdown during the final game ever at Candlestick Park. All resulting in Bowman being selected as a First Team All-Pro linebacker for the third straight year.
CSN's Matt Miaocco spoke with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio this week. The 49er coach informed Miaocco that they are open to the idea of having multiple players fill Bowman's spot, not just one player winning the vacant linebacker position.
"You could see where there could be an inside linebacker playing in base and one playing in nickel that are two different guys…All possibilities are open."
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