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March 24, 2014
So-called "Bowman rule" has Jim Harbaugh's backing.


ORLANDO, Fla. -- The so-called "Navorro Bowman rule," which would allow loose-ball scrambles to be reviewed by officials, has the support of Bowman's head coach.

"We'll be for it," Jim Harbaugh said today at the annual owners' meeting. "I think it has a good chance to be adopted. Common sense." NFL owners will vote on the proposal this week.

The league's owners will discuss all proposed rule changes today and either vote on them today or Wednesday.

Bowman, the 49ers' inside linebacker, became the unofficial face of the rule proposal when during the NFC Championship game he obviously recovered a fumble by Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse at the 49ers' 1-yard line. Although replays clearly showed he was down by contact with the ball in his possession, Harbaugh was not able to challenge the ruling that the Seahawks ended up with the ball because it was a non-reviewable play.

The scenario actually ended up working in the 49ers' favor, at least as far as field position. On the next play, Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch fumbled, and San Francisco recovered it at the 15-yard line.

Another possible rule change also would have helped officials sort out the Bowman play if it had been reviewable. The league also is considering adding more cameras along the goal line and sidelines, which also has Harbaugh's support.

He hasn't decided yet, however, how he feels about a proposal to move extra-point attempts from the 2- to the 25-yard line. The league is likely to experiment with that concept during the preseason.

"I have to think about that some more," Harbaugh said. "A negative argument is changing part of the game that's been long-standing. The positive - does it make it more exciting, more competitive to move the field goal line back? Does that differ for teams that play in domes, as opposed to outdoor weather? There will be more discussion on that.... I'm not for dramatically changing the game."

Kicker Phil Dawson also is wary of any rule changes. Dawson said he supports making the extra-point more challenging but not if it phases out the kicking game.

-- 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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