West Notes: Bowman, Chiefs, Bolts, Broncos

The latest from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Three-time All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman isn’t completely back from the torn ACL and MCL that caused him to miss the 2014 season, but the 49ers’ linebacker is making strides. Bowman practiced with the 49ers three times this week and took a high number of reps, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. He was, however, limited by a knee brace. “I don’t like it,” said Bowman. “It’s not allowing me to run as fast as I’d like to, but it’s keeping my knee safe, and that’s the most important thing.”
  • The Chiefs made a big splash in free agency when they signed star receiver Jeremy Maclin, but their Alex Smith-led offense is still lacking aerial weaponry, writes Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. The Chiefs don’t any proven pass-catching threats outside of Maclin and tight end Travis Kelce.
  • Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is excited about the development of second-year center Chris Watt, reports Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Seeing a guy, even from his rookie year to his second-year offseason like this stage we’re in right now, he’s just got a different presence about him,” Rivers said of Watt, who appeared in 12 games as a rookie and whom ProFootballFocus (subscription required) ranked 20th out of 41 qualifying centers.
  • The Broncos haven’t finished better than 18th in the NFL in yards per punt return over the last three years, so special teams coach Joe DeCamillis is heavily emphasizing competition for punt-return duties, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. “We’ve got to find what our guys do best. And we’ll do that as we go forward, but I think in this stadium I know you have to be a really good punt-return team,” said DeCamillis, who has given return reps to Jordan Norwood, Isaiah Burse, Kyle Williams, Solomon Patton, Omar Bolden, and Emmanuel Sanders during OTAs.
  • The 49ers lost starting cornerbacks Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox in free agency, but Tramaine Brock and Shareece Wright are expected to fill their void capably. What’s more, head coach Jim Tomsula liked what he saw from some of San Francisco’s other corners during OTAs. “We are talking about all this evaluating and we don’t have any pads on,” Tomsula said, per Cam Inman of the Mercury News. “But everything that is being asked of them, the way they are moving around, the running, all that stuff, good.”
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