NaVorro Bowman is staying by the Bay for the long haul.
The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker agreed to a four-year contract extension with the 49ers, worth $11 million per year with $20 million guaranteed, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source involved. Bowman had three years left on his previous deal and will now be with San Francisco through 2022. This is Bowman’s third contract as a member of the 49ers.
“My teammates and coaches have meant so much to me throughout my career and I thank them for helping me become the player I am today,” Bowman said in a team statement. “The support I’ve received from my family and friends throughout my life, especially through the adversity of the past few years, has meant so much to me. I can’t wait for the season to start and play in front of the best fans in the NFL.”
This extension makes Bowman the second highest-paid inside linebacker in the league, behind Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. Bowman led the league in total tackles (154) and compiled 2.5 sacks for San Francisco in 2015.
One of the few players that withstood the mass exodus of talent out of San Francisco after Jim Harbaugh left in 2014, Bowman has been justly rewarded. He is the heartbeat of the team, replacing legendary linebacker Patrick Willis as the leader on the defense and a fixture on the league leaderboard. Bowman battled back from a devastating leg injury suffered in the 2014 postseason to dominate offenses in 2015.
“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,” Niners general manager Trent Baalke said. “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.”
While the rest of the league is concerned with how new Niners coach Chip Kelly, an offensive mind, will influence San Francisco’s defense, Bowman has shown leadership and thrown support behind his new skipper.
“I think it’ll be straight,” he told NFL Media’s Conor Orr in January. “We just had our down years and every program goes through it. We’ll definitely get back to where we were.
“I think people are blowing it out of proportion. I think any defense you play in, if your offense is getting off the field quicker than you gotta get off the field quicker. You gotta hold yourself to that standard.”
Confidence in the Niners’ future clearly goes both ways. What Bowman sees in Kelly’s vision for the team, the organization sees in him for the next seven seasons.