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49ers ILB Navorro Bowman May Not Be Back Until Mid-Season

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters on Thursday that a “realistic” return date for ILB Navorro Bowman would be mid-season.

“Realistically, halfway through the season (or) something like that would be more realistic,” Harbaugh said, via the Sacramento Bee. “But I never underestimate NaVorro Bowman.”

Harbaugh added that they may ease him back into the mix, even after he’s cleared by doctors.

“We’ll take good care of NaVorro Bowman,” he said. “That would be the smart thing, wouldn’t it?

Bowman suffered the injury during the NFC Championship while making a play to prevent a touchdown. After seeing the reply, there was almost no way he didn’t suffer ligament damage based on the way his knee bent.

Thankfully for Bowman, his MCL does not require surgery, even though he waited to see how it would heal.

Bowman, 25, is without a doubt of the best linebackers in the game, and you could even make the case that his recent play has been better than fellow 49ers LB Patrick Willis, which is really saying something.