FEBRUARY 10: Well, where there’s smoke, there once again seems to be a fire as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Bowman has officially been hired as the Chargers linebackers coach under his former head coach. After watching his former teammate, Willis, be selected as a Hall of Famer and seeing his former head coach return to coaching at the NFL level, Bowman has now made news himself by breaking into coaching following the end of his playing career six years ago.
This also continues an exciting trend of former players making their way into the coaching ranks. Bowman joins a fellow linebacker from his own time period as a rookie NFL coach as Dont’a Hightower was hired to coach the same position in New England yesterday.
FEBRUARY 9: NaVorro Bowman looks close to breaking into coaching, with his most notable connection potentially set to produce a partnership. The Chargers are eyeing the former All-Pro as linebackers coach, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets.
Jim Harbaugh coached Bowman for four seasons in San Francisco. Bowman ascended to the All-Pro level during Harbaugh and Vic Fangio‘s time with the 49ers. Not previously connected to a coaching job, Bowman appears close to joining his former mentor on his first Chargers staff.
Bowman, 35, retired following the 2017 season. The severe leg injury he suffered in the 2013 NFC championship game ended his time playing under Harbaugh, who had left for Michigan by the time Bowman was ready to return. Bowman did continue his career following the injury, returning to All-Pro status and then closing his out his NFL run with the Raiders.
This comes hours after Patrick Willis learned he would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bowman starred alongside Willis in Fangio’s defense. Forming a historically successful duo, Bowman and Willis each earned first-team All-Pro acclaim from 2011-12. As Luke Kuechly quickly ascended to that level in 2013, Bowman was the 49ers’ first-team All-Pro linebacker representative. Willis settled for Pro Bowl honors that year, San Francisco’s third straight season involving an NFC title game appearance.
It will be interesting to see if Bowman will not need to start his career on the quality control level, as veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans did in San Francisco. Moving straight to a position coach role would be impressive for the eight-year NFL defender, who has been off the radar since that 2019 retirement. Harbaugh, however, is greenlighting other reunions on his Bolts staff. The accomplished HC is bringing Jesse Minter with him from Michigan as DC, while Greg Roman — the 49ers’ OC from 2011-14 — will head to Los Angeles as Harbaugh’s OC.
A third-round 49ers draftee in 2010, Bowman became a full-time starter during Harbaugh’s first season with the team. The 49ers gave Bowman a five-year, $45.3MM extension in 2012. After a midseason 49ers release in 2017, Bowman wrapped his career with the Raiders.