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February 4, 2014
NaVorro Bowman: Time for surgery


Wearing a hospital gown, a surgical cap and a defiant look on his face, NaVorro Bowman today took a cell-phone selfie of himself with the caption, "Time for surgery." The 49ers inside linebacker, who tore his ACL and MCL during the NFC Championship game two weeks ago, will have a procedure to repair at least the ACL ligament today.

The injury, in which Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse, was forced into Bowman's planted left leg, was gruesome to watch. But in talking to multiple orthopedic surgeons, the linebacker's prognosis is still very good. The MCL promises to heal well because it has a good supply of blood. Most MCL injuries -- such as the ones suffered by Joe Staley, Mike Iupati and Will Tukuafu -- heal on their own.

Allowing the MCL to heal is one of the reasons to wait two weeks before surgery. Another is to allow the swelling and stiffness in the knee joint to dissipate so that the patient does not have a permanently stiff knee. Bowman has been rehabbing at the team facility -- keeping the knee loose and as flexible as possible -- since the injury occurred

The ACL has a poorer blood supply, which is why it always has been a difficult injury from which to return. Several 49ers, from Darius Fleming to Kyle Williams to Mario Manningham, have suffered it in recent years. All of them either have had another tear to the same knee or, in Manningham's case, did not return to full strength. Bowman's surgery will be performed by renown surgeon James Andrews in Florida, according to a league source. Andrews, who has a good relationship with the 49ers' team doctors, has worked on a number of high-profile clients, including Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (knee) and Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (shoulder).

Doctors believe that Bowman, who won the 49ers' most prestigious team award this year, has a very good chance to make a full recovery and they place his prognosis at six to eight months. The 2014 season kicks off in seven months. If Bowman is not ready at the start of the season, Michael Wilhoite, who is an exclusive rights free agent, is a likely candidate to start next to Patrick Willis at inside linebacker.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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