NaVorro Bowman, 49ers Agree to New Contract: Latest Details, Comments, Reaction

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured Columnist

January 28, 2016; Kahuku, HI, USA; Team Irvin linebacker Navorro Bowman of the San Francisco 49ers (53) during the 2016 Pro Bowl practice at Turtle Bay Resort. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

After a successful comeback season in 2015, the San Francisco 49ers have rewarded star linebacker NaVorro Bowman with a huge contract extension, the team announced on Wednesday. 

Per Pro Football Talk, the total value of Bowman's deal is $77 million over seven years. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the new terms add four more years to his current contract, which had three years remaining, and include $20 million in guaranteed money. 

On Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Bowman will receive an extra $6 million over the next two seasons, $3.45 million in the 2018 season and then the rest over the final four seasons.

General manager Trent Baalke released a statement on the deal:

Over the last six years, NaVorro has become a cornerstone of our organization and securing his future in the Bay Area was a priority for us. The perseverance he displayed while overcoming adversity and returning to his All-Pro form provides a great example of what can be accomplished through hard work and self-belief. This contract extension reaffirms our core philosophy of rewarding our own players and we are thrilled to know NaVorro will play his entire career with the 49ers. 

The 28-year-old Bowman is one of the few remaining defensive holdovers from the 49ers team that played in the Super Bowl after the 2012 season. 

A four-time All-Pro, Bowman missed the entire 2014 season after suffering a gruesome knee injury during San Francisco's loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game the previous January. He came back in 2015, started all 16 games and led the NFL with 154 total tackles. 

However, as Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus noted, there were some clear indications Bowman was not playing up to his pre-injury standards:

Part of what made Bowman an All-Pro in the past was his play in coverage, but the 49er wasn’t anywhere close to as good in coverage in 2015 as he had been in the past. From 2011 to 2013, he averaged six passes defended per year, but only had one in 2015. His 9.3 yards per catch allowed was a career-high. His 604 receiving yards allowed was fifth-most for all linebackers. He also recorded a career-high 19 missed tackles. 

Salary-cap expert Joel Corry of CBS Sports noted that the 49ers "needed to spend money" since they were projected to have nearly $90 million in cap space next year before Bowman's new deal if the salary cap rises to $168 million. 

Since Bowman was still rounding back into form after such a long layoff and he's not at an age in which his physical skills should be in decline, there are reasons to believe he can once again be an asset in pass coverage. 

The 49ers are rebuilding their entire roster right now, though a lot of the draft focus has been on defense, with back-to-back first-round picks the last two years being invested in defensive linemen Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner. 

Bowman is the elder statesman of the 49ers defense and face of the franchise. The team's investment in him is a testament to his work ethic and dedication, but it's too soon to tell whether it was money well spent.

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