Entering the 2013 NFL season, many people would have answered Aldon Smith or Patrick Willis to the question who is the best defensive player on the San Francisco 49ers. So much has changed through the first four games. Even if Smith or Willis were able to play, the defensive MVP through the first quarter of the season definitely belongs to linebacker NaVorro Bowman.
Bowman leads the team in total tackles (34) and forced fumbles (two). He also is second in passes defended (four) and third in sacks (two).
The defense looked to be in trouble after they were outscored a whopping 56-10 in the two games following their victory against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1. Things got worse when Smith got in trouble with the law and entered an alcohol treatment center. He is not expected back until late October at the very earliest. Meanwhile, Willis’ status is still uncertain going forward as he continues to deal with a groin injury.
The good news for the 49ers was that Bowman saw what was happening and did not like it one bit. He decided to show the rest of the team just how good they could be when the inner beast is unleashed.
“If a link gets taken out of the chain, someone has to step up,” Bowman said, according to CSN Bay Area. “And being a veteran guy, you have to think like that if you want to be the best.”
Step up is exactly what Bowman did against the St. Louis Rams last Thursday. He recorded tackles all over the field and put consistent pressure on quarterback Sam Bradford. The rest of the defense took notice and followed in his footsteps. The outcome was a one-sided game that ended with a win for the 49ers.
Bowman is not just San Francisco’s MVP because of the statistics he has recorded this season. It is more because of his ability to rally the troops and get everyone to step their game up. He saw a problem and took action. Instead of using words to motivate his teammates, he inspired them with his play. That is exactly what a leader does.