One of the most durable, talented linebackers in the NFL throughout his career, NaVorro Bowman was a critical player for those good 49ers teams under Jim Harbaugh. He had a critical role in the team’s Super Bowl run—including, sadly, against the Falcons—and is regularly recognized as a terrific player. Even terrific players eventually get cut, sadly.
That was the case for Bowman yesterday, when the 49ers unceremoniously dumped the 29-year-old. He had played in five games this season, piling up 38 tackles, and looked to be mostly back on track after a lost 2016 in which he played only four games. Because he’s expensive, close to 30 and the 49ers are rebuilding, though, he effectively became expendable. Rookie Reuben Foster will take his spot full-time.
Inevitably, Falcons fans began asking me if Bowman was a possibility. My initial reaction was no, as it so often is, but I did give it some time and thought. I’m still no a day later, and I’ll explain why.
Why it makes sense
Even at 29 and coming off a major injury, Bowman is one of the league’s most reliable tacklers, a strong player in coverage, and a capable author of big plays. Adding him to the Falcons would give the team a significant upgrade to their depth, and if they felt he was a fit, they could ease Duke Riley off the field in favor of Bowman, and move Deion Jones around a bit with Bowman playing middle linebacker. From a pure talent and readiness perspective, adding Bowman to the team would be an upgrade at the position.
Why it doesn’t make sense and won’t happen
Basically every other reason you can think of. Bowman won’t necessarily come cheap, his addition would mean a snaps crunch at a position where De’Vondre Campbell and Debo need to be on the field, he’d get snaps at the expense of Duke Riley as the team is clearly trying to let him develop on the field, and Bowman himself would be unlikely to be happy with a part-time role in Atlanta. That’s a lot of potential reasons why the Falcons wouldn’t consider signing Bowman, and one big reason why Bowman might not be interested in coming here.
Ultimately, I think you’ll see Bowman wind up with a team that has plenty of snaps to give him and the money to make it worth his while, and that won’t be Atlanta.