For a second consecutive game, All-Pro middle linebacker Patrick Willis was inactive because of a hamstring injury he sustained in the 49ers’ loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3.
Normally, not having a player of his caliber for a game against an above-average quality NFL team in the Houston Texans could spell trouble, but for the second consecutive game, the San Francisco 49ers did not miss a beat as NaVorro Bowman and Michael Wilhoite played out of their minds.
Against the Texans, Bowman and Wilhoite each had 13 combined total tackles, while combining for three tackles for loss and a pass deflection. Their sensational performances follow up the stellar performances in the 49ers’ Week 4 win against the St. Louis Rams. The play of Bowman and Wilhoite at the middle/inside linebacker slots against the Texans defined the dominance of the 49ers defense.
Once again, with Willis out, Bowman assumed the responsibility of being the quarterback of the 49ers’. Like he showed in the win against the Rams, having to handle this responsibility did not affect his play as Bowman once again showed and demonstrated why he is one of the best linebackers in the league.
As for Wilhoite, he once again demonstrated and showed that he is more than capable of filling in and stepping up into a starting role. Like Bowman, Wilhoite found himself involved regularly in every play as his 13 total tackles can attest; in addition, Wilhoite did a good job of helping the defensive line put pressure on the Texans’ quarterbacks during the game.
You never want to be without one of your best players, especially if that player happens to be one of the best at his position in the league. But once again, Bowman and Wilhoite stepped up and played above and beyond what is normally expected of them. If the 49ers have to play without Willis in Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals, Bowman and Wilhoite will be able to once again ensure that his absence is not missed.