When it was announced that Patrick Willis would not be activate on Thursday night for the San Francisco 49ers crucial NFC West division game against the St. Louis Rams, the task of being the quarterback on defense from the middle linebacker would be delegated to his partner in crime on the field in NaVorro Bowman. All Bowman did was step up and help lead a dominating 49ers defense performance against the Rams in a 35-11 win for the 49ers.
Bowman’s final stat line reads as such, he had six total tackles, five of those solo, he sacked Rams quarterback Sam Bradford twice and had three total tackles for loss. Bowman almost had a pick six if not for the fact that he was clearly running to the end zone before he had the ball secured in his hands. The stat line alone suggests that Bowman had a great night and one that might earn him Defensive Player of the Week honors in the NFC but as you watched the game, it was clear that Bowman had an impact far greater than what his impressive stat line suggests he did for the game.
What Bowman did was take over and assume the leadership role that Patrick Willis assumes and carries out when he is on the field of play for the 49ers defense. Bowman did a masterful job of quarterbacking the 49ers defense by making the calls to put his fellow teammates in the right situations to make a play and or prevent the Rams from being able to gain big yardage on a play. In addition, even if Bowman did not make or participate on a tackle, as you watched the game, he was right there ready to make a tackle or play on the ball if that was required of him on that play.
Because he plays alongside the guy who is considered the best middle linebacker in the game right now, the play and ability of NaVorro Bowman often gets overlooked and goes unnoticed. Yet on Thursday night when Willis was unable to play because of a groin injury, Bowman had to step up as the quarterback of the defense. He did just that with a great performance and in the process, showed that he is a pretty damn good player in his own right.