SANTA CLARA –- Coach Jim Tomsula was noncommittal Friday whether 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman would make his exhibition debut on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium.
Bowman has taken part in all but one practice since the start of training camp, and he’s received full medical clearance. However, the 49ers are being cautious with the three-time first-team All-Pro linebacker who missed all of last season after sustaining a severe knee injury in the NFC Championship game in Seattle in January 2014.
“I don’t want to mislead with that,” Tomsula said. “You know, with those guys in coming back after a long way away, you see everything they’re doing on the practice field and you know there’s no reason. But, really, I’ll reserve the right to look in a guy’s eyes two hours before a game.”
After earlier in the week stating his intent for Bowman to play in the exhibition opener against the Houston Texans last week, Tomsula changed his mind and Bowman did not suit up.
Bowman said he has cleared every mental barrier required for him to be ready for the regular season, so it does not appear to be a big issue in his mind.
The 49ers will have two joint practices next week against the Denver Broncos before their Saturday game in Denver. The 49ers could lean toward those two practices taking the place of Bowman appearing in an actual exhibition game.
“I don’t want to say, ‘Do you want to play or don’t you?’ I don’t want to do that. I’ll make that decision,” Tomsula said. “I want to take that off the shoulders. There is enough stresses, I’m not talking about the physical side. I’m talking about the whole physiological side of things.”
Bowman, running backs Reggie Bush and Kendall Hunter, tight end Vernon Davis and defensive lineman Darnell Dockett were the healthy veteran players who were held out of action against the Texans last week.
“I got the coaching staff here this afternoon and we’re going to go through that and go through our whole personnel thing and look at how we’re going to set some depth charts and things like that,” Tomsula said. “I wanted to wait until now, get guys through practice. We’ve had different combinations working through the week that you’ve seen. So, soon we’re going to start off with it kind of methodically. We’re trying to methodically put that together to see what we need to see.”