Mike Singletary paid NaVorro Bowman the ultimate compliment after today's practice when he agreed that, yes, the rookie linebacker reminds him a bit of what he saw from Patrick Willis three years ago. As was the case with Willis in 2007, Singletary was skeptical of Bowman when the scouting process began. After all, most of the film on Bowman showed him playing on the outside, and the coach wondered if Bowman was physical enough to play inside in the NFL.
Bowman is quickly erasing those doubts. "He is a physical guy, much more physical than I thought he was," Singletary said. "I didn't know if he would be able to play inside. He was a thick looking guy when I saw him at the combine, but I wasn't sure. The film had me going back and forth because he was never really inside, he was never really outside. He was more outside than he was inside. When he got here, we realized he was thick enough, he was quick enough - really a unique guy because he has a lot of flexibility which is sort of ironic because I heard prior to getting him that he was kind of a stiff guy, but he moves really well."
As for comparisons to Willis, Bowman is similar in size - Willis is 6-1, 240, Bowman is 6-0, 242 - and in speed. Singletary said the attribute that makes Willis special is his desire and his work ethic. The early indications are that Bowman has some of that, too. "He's a guy that certainly has some potential along the special side," Singletary said. "It's just a willingness to develop it. I mean, Pat really worked his tail off to get there."
Bowman did not play Sunday in Indianapolis because of a sore shoulder but he promises to see quite a bit of work against the Vikings, mostly at "ted" linebacker. (Willis likely will start the game, but won't play long). Another player who'll see his first game action this summer is outside linebacker Travis LaBoy, who has missed the majority of training camp practices with a concussion. LaBoy is battling Diyral Briggs for a roster spot.
Singletary said neither Vernon Davis (knee) nor Michael Crabtree (neck) would play. These are both precautionary injuries. Both players have been going through individual drills this week. ... Singletary was less definitive about Frank Gore -- "probably out," Singletary said - and Brian Westbrook, who is a game-time decision. Rookie Anthony Dixon took the first-team repetitions in practice today, an indication that he will see the lion's share of the carries Sunday.
Singletary said he hasn't decided whether Nate Davis will be the second quarterback to enter the game or whether David Carr will have only an abbreviated appearance before giving way to Davis. Either way, look for Davis to be on the field before halftime. I'll have more on the thought process behind that move tomorrow.
Don't be surprised if Ted Ginn is not returning punts Sunday. Singletary said he knows what he's getting out of Ginn at that position and wants to see more of Dominique Zeigler and Bobby Guillory.
Adam Snyder (concussion) was held out of contact drills today. No word on whether he will play Sunday.
-- Matt Barrows