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Shortly after the 49ers activated NaVorro Bowman to the 53-man roster on Tuesday, the inside linebacker walked into the team locker room still sweating from his rehab work and spoke to the media. It's the most extensive interview Bowman has given since suffering a devastating knee injury in the NFC Championship game last January in Seattle.
It is highly unlikely Bowman will play in a game this season. He has yet to practice. But simply having the opportunity to have the Pro Bowler join the mix is positive news for a 49ers team that could certainly use some.
[RELATED: 49ers activate Bowman]
Below is the transcript from his 10-minute interview:
WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE AS FAR AS COMING BACK?
NB: I think I’m to the point that I’ve been doing everything that the doctors have asked me to do. But, I think the football aspect is needed for me to just be confident in the knee and run around.
WHEN DO YOU EXPECT TO PRACTICE?
NB: Just taking it day by day. Whenever the coaches say I can go out there. I’m sure it will be a modified practice. I’m sure it won't be full-out. But of course that’s how I’d like it. But I’ll take my time and take it slow and just try to get back to where I was.
WHEN WEIGHING GETTING OUT THERE WHEN NOT 100 PERCENT OR WAITING UNTIL NEXT SEASON WHEN YOU ARE, WHAT ARE THE VARIABLES?
NB: I’m going to get out there when I’m 100 percent, let’s be clear on that. But like I said, throughout this rehab process I’ve been doing everything to get me this far. Now it's time for some football activity, some quick reaction, things like that.
WHAT IS THE LIKLIHOOD THAT YOU’LL BE ABLE TO GO IN A GAME THIS YEAR AND WILL IT HINGE UPON IF THE 49ERS ARE IN THE PLAYOFF HUNT?
NB: Of course I want to be there if I’m ready to go. It just comes down to if I’m ready. I’m listening to the doctors. They’re being very cautious about what I do as far as me, because once I’m out there, I don’t know how to go slow. I only know one speed. They just want to be sure they control me up to that point.
WHEN YOU SAY FOOTBALL ACTIVITY, CAN YOU BE SPECIFIC?
NB: In a helmet. Having shoulder pads on. Just being around 21 other guys that are moving at a pace that needs to be moved at so my knee can get used to it. I’ve been doing everything by myself. It’s been boring. The hardest part has been just being patient. I’ve never had an injury like this so taking it slow is the best way to go.
IS IT ONE INJURY OR WOULD YOU SAY IT’S TWO? (MCL & ACL)
NB: I would say one because it’s all in the same box. If one is not healed the knee is not going to work. It’s all there, but I feel great though. I really do. I’m just excited to have the chance to play this game again.
CAN YOU IMAGINE THE EMOTIONAL LIFT THAT YOUR PRESENCE COULD PROVIDE AT A TIME THAT’S NEEDED?
NB: We’ve been on an up and down slope this year, but I’ve been behind these guys since day one. It’s hard to go out there and play teams like Seattle where you’ve got young guys who haven’t been in those types of games yet. So me, putting on a helmet again, those guys seeing me put the work in, just showing them that I really do love this game, hopefully it would raise the morale on the team.
VIC FANGIO HAS SAID ONCE YOU START PRACTICING, YOU NEED A FEW WEEKS OF PRACTICE BEFORE YOU CAN PLAY IN A GAME. IS THAT STILL THE MESSAGE AND DO YOU AGREE THAT IS NECESSARY?
NB: Yes, that’s still the message and Vic has told me that no matter what is said, he wants to make sure that I’m 100 percent because this is my career. It’s not the last game of my career so I’m glad that everyone cares about me and not just this season or this game. They want to make sure that I’m 100 percent and able to live out my career.
NO ONE EXPECTED THIS TEAM TO BE 7-6. WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE TO HAVE TO WATCH FROM THE SIDELINE?
NB: It’s been hard, sad at the same time, especially when you want to take your brain and put it in the guys who are out there and allow them to see the things I see on the sideline. But it’s part of it. That’s why we have 53 guys so that the next man can step up and help our team out. I understand, I wasn’t able to contribute to my team this year. It sucks being on the sideline. That’s why I’ve been working so hard just to get back out there because I miss it.
IT IS STRANGE THAT YOU ARE ACTIVATED THE WEEK THE TEAM IS HEADED TO SEATTLE, THE PLACE WHERE YOU GOT HURT. WHAT WILL YOU TELL CHRIS BORLAND ABOUT PLAYING IN THAT ATMOSPHERE?
NB: Just to understand the level of play that is needed. Every game is different, but this is a division game. This is a game that players have built this game up to this point, and it takes a special attitude and mindset to go out there and beat those guys. You can’t approach it like any other game, because they are not just any team. They understand what it takes to win even when they are playing good teams and good defenses. We have to approach it the same way. Basically go out there and separate your mind from anything else other than just beating Seattle.
WILL IT BE A LITTLE WEIRD GOING BACK UP THERE JUST 11 MONTHS LATER?
NB: Yeah, it’s weird. Every game has been weird for me. I haven’t even known what time to wake up or show up to the stadium, how to just relax and watch other people get dressed. It’s been difficult for me. I haven’t talked about it, but it really has been hard, and sometimes I just ask ‘Why?' But every day, feeling my knee get better when I wake up in the morning, has been a great thing for me.
HOW MUCH DO YOU APPRECIATE THE GAME BEING AWAY FROM IT?
NB: I appreciate it. Anyone that dedicates as much time as I have to this game will miss it. It’s really like losing a family member. It’s that much a part of me. I wake up, I think about football. I breathe it. My son is five now, and he [asks], 'Daddy, when are you going to play?' He’s understanding the game, so that’s really hitting home for me because I really want him to see how hard daddy works.
AT 7-6, AND WITH PATRICK WILLIS SHUT DOWN FOR THE SEASON, HOW CLOSE WERE YOU TO SAYING, 'IM NOT GOING TO PLAY THIS YEAR AND TRY TO BE 100 percent FOR 2015?'
NB: Honestly, I’ve never said that. I’ve just worked, dealt with the injury, accepted it, looked at other guys overcome their injuries, and always said to myself, 'If that person can do it, I can do it.' That’s really what drove me. I’ve never just said I was going to throw in the towel and not come back and play. I’ve always just worked. If it felt good, it felt good. If it didn’t, hopefully people understand. But it’s feeling great, and I’m excited to be back out there.
HAVE YOU REACHED OUT TO ANY GUYS WITH SIMILAR INJURIES OR HAVE THEY REACHED OUT TO YOU AND BEEN HELPFUL?
NB: A lot of guys have reached out to me, and really it’s just, 'Get your mind right, right then when it happens, and you’ll get through it.' A lot of guys get down and don’t get that right attitude to push through this adverse time. But once you make your mind up, you’ll get through it. That’s pretty much what all the guys have been telling me.
ANYONE PARTICULAR COME TO MIND WHOSE ADVICE WAS HELPFUL?
NB: Pat, just to talk to him. He had a knee. It wasn’t as severe as mine, but he had a knee, just how did he deal with it. It’s easy to play with a finger or an arm, but a knee, man, really grabs your attention because we do so much stuff in the traffic of this game you need to be able to do certain things. There were a lot of guys who were there for me, and I appreciate that.
WHEN YOU AND WILLIS PLAY, THIS TEAM PLAYS WITH A PHYSICALNESS. MANY BELIEVE THE TEAM, NOT JUST THE DEFENSE, HAS LOST THAT THIS YEAR. DO YOU SEE THAT AS WELL? IS IT PLAYING AS PHYSICAL AS IT NEEDS TO THIS YEAR?
NB: No, we’re not, and I’m going to say that. I don’t want to say I’m the reason or Pat’s the reason, but just when you’re used to coming to work and seeing a type of behavior, whether it’s practice or the meeting rooms, everyone follows. We’ve lost that a little bit this year. That’s obvious. But we have 53 guys, and I’m going to keep saying it, that anytime someone goes down, the next guy has to stand up. Everyone has been part of teams like that. We all know how to do that, but you have to be the man to do it. You have to want to do it.
HOW DO YOU FEEL THE PLAYERS HAVE DEALT WITH POTENTIAL DISTRACTIONS OVER RECENT WEEKS AND KEPT PLAYING?
NB: I don’t think we’ve had too many distractions. All that stuff, as far as players, we don’t have any distractions. It’s work. It’s practice. We have to handle what goes on out there on the field. The distractions you’re referring to, we can’t control that. We just have to play football.