NaVorro Bowman said he felt he gave the 49ers a bargain the first time they renegotiated his contract in 2012 and that’s why the team was willing to redo it again this week even though three years remained on the veteran linebacker’s deal.
When he received the first extension, the 49ers had two superstar inside linebackers – Bowman and Patrick Willis.
“Out of respect for Pat, I took a little bit less and understood that this was his team at the time,” Bowman, 28, said Thursday. “And I’ve accomplished a lot from that time. … For me, asking for the deal, they understood why. It’s basically about being fair.”
Bowman’s four-year extension, signed Wednesday night, keeps him with the team through the 2022 season when he will be 34.
He said he hasn’t thought that far ahead. His next goal, he said, is to make the Pro Football of Fame, which he believes will require 10 seasons in the NFL.
“And if I’m feeling like playing after that, then I will do so,” Bowman said. “You know, you never want to leave any money on the table, but you definitely want to leave this game being able to walk and, me for instance, being able to keep up with my kids and things like that.”
Willis retired last year at 30, citing the wear and tear on his feet. He played eight seasons.
With Willis and defensive lineman Justin Smith retired, Bowman is the unquestioned leader in the locker room. He acknowledged his contract extension is a signal to the team’s young players.
“I’ve had several guys walk up to me and say this is motivation for them,” Bowman said. “It’s win-win situations for all us – to show guys it’s possible, but you have to put your work in and do your job.”
Four of the team’s last five first-round draft picks are defensive players. Bowman said the prospect of playing behind linemen like Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, who both played for 49ers coach Chip Kelly as freshmen at Oregon, was appealing, too.
“It’s looking bright for us, and we do have young guys that can potentially be superstars in this league,” he said.
Et cetera – Colin Kaepernick had his deepest throw of training camp Thursday, a 45-yard touchdown to receiver Torrey Smith over Tramaine Brock. Still, it was a rough day for the quarterbacks. Kaepernick was 6 of 13 in team drills; Gabbert was 5 for 11.
▪ Three receivers – Smith (knee), Bruce Ellington (finger) and Eric Rogers (knee) – left practice early. None of the injuries appeared serious.
▪ The 49ers claimed former San Jose State defensive back Cleveland Wallace III off waivers from the Texans and waived outside linebacker Lenny Jones, who played last year at Nevada. Both are undrafted rookies.