San Francisco 49ers

Why NaVorro Bowman didn’t leave Sunday’s game

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws over San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws over San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. AP

Why was NaVorro Bowman still on the field late in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Cardinals, especially after he tweaked his surgically repaired knee?

Because Bowman didn’t want to come out of the game, said 49ers coach Jim Tomsula, who liked the message the linebacker’s perseverance sent to the rest of the team.

“We’ve got a core group of guys here that have that,” Tomsula said. “And I think the whole team has that.”

Bowman was among three 49ers who played a team-high 71 snaps against Arizona – safety Antoine Bethea and cornerback Tramaine Brock were the others – and he finished with a game-high nine tackles.

The only three plays he missed came at game’s end when the Cardinals ran time off the clock with a 47-7 lead. On the previous series, Bowman was in obvious pain after making a sideline tackle and was slow to get up after that and several ensuing plays. He said someone “rolled up” on his knee on the play.

That had fans and media wondering why the six-year veteran who missed the 2014 season while rehabilitating his surgically reconstructed knee was still on the field despite the lopsided score.

That’s just who he is and what he does. It’s good for the locker room, it’s good for the players and it’s good for the young guys.

Michael Wilhoite, 49ers linebacker, on NaVorro Bowman

“It just shows that he’s going to be there through thick and thin and that he’s a leader,” outside linebacker Corey Lemonier said. “And we all respect that.”

Said fellow inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite: “That’s just who he is and what he does. It’s good for the locker room, it’s good for the players and it’s good for the young guys.”

Bowman typically does not practice on Wednesdays, a respite that’s been afforded to other 49ers veterans in previous years.

Kilgore update – When training camp began, Tomsula said center Daniel Kilgore underwent a follow-up procedure – a “quick surgery,” the coach called it – after suffering a broken leg on Oct. 19.

“Not a big deal,” Tomsula said in July. “... It was something and we feel real good about that.”

Kilgore on Wednesday said it was anything but minor and that the follow-up surgery involved replacing “hardware” in his fibula, specifically 12 screws and a plate.

He is now walking without crutches or a walking boot but said he still is in the midst of rehabilitating from the injury. Because Kilgore is on the physically-unable-to-perform list, he must sit out the first six weeks of the season.

He said it’s possible he could return to action in Week 7 but that the timetable has not been determined.

“The biggest thing is going to be the conditioning part,” he said. “It might be Week 7, it might be Week 10. I won’t know until I’m out there.”

The 49ers’ biggest problems along the offensive line have been at center and right guard where Marcus Martin and Jordan Devey are the starters. Kilgore started the first seven games last season and was playing well when he was injured.

Hayne’s returns limited – Jarryd Hayne set up the 49ers’ only touchdown in Arizona with a 37-yard punt return, but don’t expect to see the Aussie on kickoff returns.

It’s kind of two different skill sets. Not to say that Jarryd can’t (return kickoffs), but that’s not his strong suit.

Thomas McGaughey, 49ers special teams coordinator, on Jarryd Hayne

“It’s kind of two different skill sets,” special-teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said. “Not to say that Jarryd can’t do it, but that’s not his strong suit.”

Instead, it looks as if DeAndrew White or Bruce Ellington, if his ankle has healed, will handle kick-return duties. White had that job in Arizona, where he averaged 23.8 yards a return and nearly lost a fumble.

“If you look at the space in a punt return, it’s a lot more than opposed to the space on a kickoff,” McGaughey said. “It can get real tight in there in a hurry. And that’s something (Hayne) is still trying to get a feel for. I think his strength is punt return, and that’s where we’re going to keep him.”

Injuries – Tight end Vernon Davis (knee) did not practice, but running back Reggie Bush (calf), Ellington (ankle) and tight end Vance McDonald (knee) – who all missed Sunday’s game – practiced in full.

So did four others who are nursing injuries: cornerback Kenneth Acker (back), guard Alex Boone (shoulder), linebacker Ahmad Brooks (shoulder) and safety L.J. McCray (hip).

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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