Something small was missing when NaVorro Bowman ceremoniously returned to the 49ers last month to announce his retirement after eight seasons. He wasn’t signed by San Francisco to officially retire as a member of the organization.
But the team that drafted him made good on that this week just before the start of training camp. The 49ers signed Bowman on Monday, allowing him to officially retire as a 49er, according to the NFL transaction wire.
“I feel like the 49ers is my home and it’s the place that loved me from the start,” Bowman said June 4, “so I wanted to come back and retire as a Niner. They welcomed me and I’m glad it happened.”
Bowman that day returned to the club’s Santa Clara facility with his family to watch a minicamp practice. He broke down the huddle afterwards following a strong endorsement in a speech from head coach Kyle Shanahan, who played a prominent role in Bowman’s departure midway through the 2017 campaign.
The coaching staff determined Bowman couldn’t be an every-down player at that stage of his career following the devastating knee injury suffered in the 2014 NFC title game against the Seahawks – and an Achilles tear suffered in 2016.
Prior to the injuries, Bowman was one of the league’s premier defenders highlighted by his brilliant 2013 campaign when he helped the 49ers reach their third-straight conference championship game on the back of their elite defense.
“(I) remember the blood, sweat and tears of the guys that you played with and the respect that you earned that’s not given to you,” Bowman said.
Bowman during his playing days said it was a goal to make the Hall of Fame, though the four-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler likely won’t have the resume to get in. He spoke about how injuries may have derailed that dream.
“I was giving everything for my teammates,” he said. “That’s what happens, that’s why they say it’s a 100-percent injury rate in this game. But the fans recognize me. That’s why I play the game, to get the love from the fans and get the respect of my fellow players.”