San Francisco 49ers

NaVorro Bowman is pushing ahead (even if lateral movement is not yet 100 percent)

San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) tackles Denver Broncos wide receiver Jordan Norwood (11) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015, in Denver.
San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) tackles Denver Broncos wide receiver Jordan Norwood (11) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015, in Denver. AP

SANTA CLARA -- NaVorro Bowman on Tuesday said he agreed with Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco's assessment that he hasn't fully returned from his 2014 knee injury. But he said he thinks Flacco, the media and other observers will continue to see improvements as the year goes on.

Flacco said last week that Bowman looked like his former self when pursuing ball carriers who were in front of him but that his lateral movement and backpedal didn't appear to be 100 percent.

Bowman today said that's true, but it's not because his surgically repaired left knee isn't strong or responding properly. Rather, he said the disconnect lies somewhere between his eyes and his knee.

"When you have a knee (injury) you see what's in front of you when you go down hill," he said. "But side to side and behind you is the challenging part because you don't know your footing and things like that. That comes with experience and getting the repetitions out there."

He said that connection is getting better with every outing, including Sunday's game against the Ravens. Bowman led all tacklers with 15 stops and played all 77 of the 49ers' defensive snaps.

"It was the best I felt throughout the season," he said. "And then we turn around and we have a Thursday night game. So I felt good this last game and hopefully I can get the knee ready so that it feels the same way it felt this past Sunday."

Bowman's January 2014 injury came on a goal-line play against the Seahawks, but he said there's no extra motivation this week.

"It's special to you guys, man," he said. "It's a new team, a new coaching staff. It's always a big game because they're NFC West opponents."

In fact, Bowman said a number of Seahawks players -- including Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson -- gave him well wishes in the offseason after his injury.

"You know this league is really friendly of the field," he said. "And that's what you want. You want guys to really play their heart out on the field and give their respect where respect is due off the field. And they've done that."

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

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