There is no secret the Chicago Bears have a shortage at linebacker and the San Francisco 49ers just happened to make a good one available on Friday.
The 49ers announced the release of NaVorro Bowman, an All-Pro middle linebacker who was named to three Pro Bowls during his career in San Francisco. The 29-year-old Bowman is an experienced and familiar with Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, having played for him at a high level while Fangio was the 49ers’ defensive coordinator.
So it’s a perfect match, right?
JJ Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago breaks down the pros and cons of the Bears signing Bowman to bolster a linebackers room held together by medical tape and bubble gum.
There is an obvious need at a position that has been nagged by injuries and has seen five different players start at the two inside linebacker spots. And it’s not as if the team would be responsible for a significant amount of cash because of offsets in his contract, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Not that the Bears are pressed against the cap or anything. Moreover, Bowman is still on the right side of 30 and could conceivably have a few more years as a quality contributor left in the tank.
There’s a player who fits an immediate need. Go get him now … right?
Bowman is a big-name player, but one with considerable injury baggage the Bears should take into consideration if they decide to pursue him. He tore an ACL and MCL in the 2014 NFC Championship game, then missed the entire next season. Bowman returned with an All-Pro season a year later, but tore his Achilles in 2016 and missed all but four games.
With second-year linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski nearing a return from injury of his own, it might not make sense for the Bears to invest in Bowman at this time. Besides, taking snaps from a 24-year-0ld for a veteran with injury concerns might not be in the best interests of a rebuilding team.
Then again, Bowman might not want to sign with a non-contender that has a 1-4 record and is 10-27 since the start of 2015. One of the handful of Super Bowl contenders could likely make a better pitch to bring Bowman aboard compared to what a struggling Bears team could offer.
Bowman is an interesting player because of the fit, need, and familiarity with Fangio. But it still remains to be seen whether the sides have a mutual interest. Surely, we’ll find out in the days to come.