With three weeks remaining in the regular season, the 49ers have added linebacker NaVorro Bowman to their 53-man roster. Bowman, who had surgery in February to repair a damaged ACL and MCL, has not yet practiced with the team and there is no guarantee that he will do so this week, either.
It’s unlikely Bowman will play Sunday in Seattle, where he injured his knee in the NFC Championship game a little more than 11 months ago. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has said Bowman would need several weeks of practice before he was ready to play.
To make room for Bowman, the team placed tight end Vance McDonald on injured reserve. McDonald has missed the last three games with a back injury. He is the second tight end -- Derek Carrier (foot) is the other -- to go on injured reserve this season.
The 49ers had to decide today whether to activate Bowman or place him on injured reserve, which would have ended his season and prevented him from joining teammates in practice. Their decision to put him on the 53-man roster means that he can start practicing with the team again in coming weeks, which is the next step in his rehabilitation process. It also keeps the 49ers’ options open should they somehow overtake two of their NFC opponents in the next three weeks and make the playoffs.
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The 49ers are unlikely to rush Bowman, who last year was perhaps their best player, back into action, and there is a real possibility that, despite being able to play, he does not suit up this season. The 49ers deactivate seven players for every game and Bowman promises to be one of them at least early on.
The hope is that by allowing him to get some work in practice in late December, he gets a jump start on the 2015 season.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.