Posted: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013
By James Brady
I have to wonder what the mood would be here at Niners Nation if the San Francisco 49ers didn't have the two best inside linebackers in the NFL. What if they actually only had one, and that one was injured with his status up in the air for the second-straight game?
Patrick Willis is dealing with an injury and seems to be a legitimate game-time decision on Sunday. It's a groin injury, and it kept him out of last week's win over the St. Louis Rams. He's questionable for this Sunday's game against the Houston Texans, and even though I think we all know Jim Harbaugh would love to put everyone on the injury report at either questionable or doubtful, I think it's safe to say that Willis' status is legitimately in question.
So why aren't we more worried? The answer is simple: NaVorro Bowman.
While the 49ers are indisputably better with both Willis and Bowman on the field, losing the best linebacker in the NFL for a couple games is made somewhat more bearable by the fact that the 49ers have the second-best linebacker in the NFL. At this point, some might even consider Bowman to be better than Willis at a lot of things.
The Texans are not the Rams, and Willis is obviously needed more here than he would be there, but I'm confident in Bowman, and you should be to. Against the Rams, he looked fantastic. He was clearly the leader on the field, had six tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble, and led the 49ers to victory.
Against the Texans, he might have to lead again. He'll probably have to lead while taking some of the coverage duties that Willis would usually take, probably with tight end Owen Daniels. But he'll still make the big plays, lead the defense and he'll probably look very good doing it.
I recall users on this site suggesting that extending Bowman would be a luxury the 49ers couldn't afford. This was, of course, before the 49ers extended him. They said a team doesn't need two of the top linebackers in the league, and suggested that the money instead go to Dashon Goldson.
How wrong they were.