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  • Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

    Marcio Jose Sanchez Associated Press Linebacker NaVorro Bowman's extension is added to the year and a half left on his original contract and lasts through 2018.

  • Hector Amezcua / hamezcua@sacbee.com

    Hector Amezcua hamezcua@sacbee.com The extension signed by linebacker NaVorro Bowman, left, should give coach Jim Harbaugh, right, some peace of mind, and defensive continuity.

49ers linebacker Bowman signs five-year extension

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 - 5:17 pm

SANTA CLARA – NaVorro Bowman's contract was expected to be one of the pricklier ones the 49ers had on their to-do list.

After all, Bowman and Patrick Willis, two of the team's best young players, play the same position. And Willis is the face of the 49ers, someone whose image literally will be draped on the outside of the team's new stadium.

If Bowman demanded more money than Willis, it likely would have resulted in Bowman eventually signing with another team.

That didn't happen.

"It's not really about money," Bowman said hours after signing a five-year contract extension Tuesday. "At the end of the day, we all play this game and we get paid a good amount of money, but all in all people remember you for the wins, remember you for the team that you're a part of."

The one-two combination of Willis and Bowman – both first-team All- Pros last season – is what makes the 49ers' No. 2-ranked defense unique, and now that combination should be intact at least through the 2016 season.

Bowman's deal is added to the year and half remaining on his original contract and takes it through 2018. He will be 30 when it expires.

Willis signed a five-year extension two years ago and is locked in through the 2016 season.

Both are excellent tacklers and are as fast as safeties. Willis twice has led the NFL in tackles (2007 and '09); Bowman currently ranks sixth overall with 100 tackles.

Bowman said he called Willis as soon as he learned the deal was complete.

"I wasn't supposed to, but I couldn't keep it from him," Bowman said. "He has a great deal to do with this, too, just playing beside him and him helping me through this season and last year. For me and him to be playing together for the next (four) years is just a great thing and we're excited about that."

Bowman said he wasn't upset over earning slightly less than his teammate.

"He's my brother," Bowman said. "We play together, play close together, and we're making the same amount of money, just about. So I'm happy about it and won't lose any sleep over it."

It's easy to get a good night's rest when you are due to make as much as $45.25 million, $25.5 million guaranteed. Willis' contract is for $50 million, $29 million guaranteed.

Bowman's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said the sides began negotiating at the start of the season, and he admitted they were "pretty far apart" at the time. Once the guaranteed portion was settled, he said, the rest fell into place.

Rosenhaus said it's rare for a player to get a new contract midway through his third season.

"I think only the most proactive teams get it done," Rosenhaus said. "I think this is perhaps the most talented team in the NFL. And if you want to keep all your good players, you have to get deals done now. You can't let guys get to free agency. You can't keep everybody."

While Willis and Bowman are expected to be together at least through 2016, other 49ers still are seeking long-term deals. Safety Dashon Goldson will be a free agent in March, while the contracts for cornerback Tarell Brown and defensive end Justin Smith run out after the 2013 season.

Willis and Bowman said they understood that while they are under contract for the long term, it can't dull their appetite to win immediately.

"Right now, all I can think about is just taking advantage of the opportunity now – not banking on next year, and the year after, and the year after," Willis said. "You know, things happen and you never know about this business.

"All we can control is right now. Just the thought of it is a great thought. I couldn't be more blessed to be playing alongside an outstanding middle linebacker as NaVorro and with those other guys as well."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Matthew Barrows



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