The San Francisco 49ers are reportedly willing to trade veteran linebacker NaVorro Bowman, according to Michael Lombardi of The Ringer.
"[The 49ers have] made it known that if you want him, he's healthy, they'll be willing to move," he said during a recent episode of The Ringer NFL Show, per
"Bowman is a guy who's been a leader in the locker room, who's been part of the team. He had a really good relationship with the older general manager, Trent Baalke. So I think this is a message they would send to the locker room that he's no longer in control any more. He's available if you want. I don't know who's gonna pay him $9.5 million coming off all the injuries that he's had, but you can have him. And I think ultimately, you gotta make that decision, and I don't think that'll be a lot."
The Niners, however, refuted that report. General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan released a joint statement to NBC Sports Bay Area, per Matt Maiocco:
"The report that we have been shopping NaVorro Bowman is completely false. From the time we joined the organization, NaVorro has been the consummate professional. It is evident he has been working very hard to prepare for the upcoming season and we have been impressed by what we have already seen on the field. We are looking forward to NaVorro’s future contributions to this team."
When healthy, Bowman, 29, has been one of the NFL's most productive middle linebackers. He's totaled 143 or more tackles in four of the past six NFL seasons, pairing with Patrick Willis in his prime to give the Niners the best linebacker pair in the NFL.
Injuries have been a major storyline for Bowman over the past three years, however. He missed the entire 2014 season with a torn MCL and ACL, and he played in only four games last year before suffering a season-ending Achilles tear. With the Niners having selected Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster in the first round this year, Bowman is more expendable in San Francisco than he's been in the past.
But his injury history and cap hit of $9.6 million this year, $12.0 million in 2018 and $6.4 million in 2019, per Spotrac.com, could make it difficult for the Niners to find a willing trade partner if they decide to go that route. San Francisco likely wouldn't receive the type of quality return expected for a player of Bowman's past production and ability.
Plus, having Bowman to both pair with Foster and mentor him next season could be ideal for the team. Thus, it wouldn't be surprising if Bowman was still in San Francisco and in a starting role next season.