Given the frequency and varying weight of offseason reports, most teams let news about themselves go by unaddressed.
“The report that we have been shopping NaVorro Bowman is completely false,” a joint statement from general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan read. “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.”
The report came from longtime NFL personnel man Michael Lombardi via The Ringer.
Bowman, when healthy, is far and away the 49ers‘ best defensive player. His play during the absolutely dismal Jim Tomsula era was inspiring, as were his four games of 2016 before a torn Achilles tendon.
As Tomsula and Shanahan likely know, installing a culture change requires a buy-in from amenable veterans who like to lead by example. At the Pro Bowl two years ago, Bowman told me about his openness with then-coach Chip Kelly — an opinion that was not popular among defensive players at the time.
Now that they have a rookie first-rounder in Reuben Foster who they hope becomes the future centerpiece of their defense, Bowman’s presence becomes increasingly important so long as they can come to an agreement about his future salary. Bowman will make $8.7 million next year and is on the books for $6.7 million this year (according to contract site Spotrac, this is the remaining guaranteed money on Bowman’s deal).
That might be why Shanahan and Lynch wanted to nip this one in the bud. Flustering a player who might end up being your biggest asset in Year 1 is never a wise business decision.