NFL Wire News

49ers Bowman flashes talent in comeback


The Sports Xchange

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — It took San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman just one play to send a message Sunday night: “Look out, NFL. I’m back.”

Two plays later, he had something to add: “And I just might be better than ever.”

On Sunday, the three-time All-Pro selection saw his first game action since ripping up his left knee in the 2013 NFC Championship game. He took the field for the 49ers’ first defensive series against the Dallas Cowboys.

Little did anyone know, Bowman was on a five-play leash. New 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula even threatened to call a timeout if necessary to get his star off the field at his limit.

Turns out, Bowman was perfectly happy jogging to the sideline after just three plays, after completing what, in a linebacker’s world, could be deemed a perfect series.

First, he greeted Cowboys running back Darren McFadden in the hole and floored him after a one-yard gain.

Then he found a seam in the vaunted Dallas offensive line to take down McFadden one yard in the backfield, effectively negating the previous meager gain.

And finally, after demonstrating his knee was fully operational north and south, Bowman headed due east to track down Lance Dunbar after the running back caught a pass in the flat from quarterback Tony Romo. The play lost a yard.

Three plays, three tackles, two for losses.

And one standing ovation, from 49ers fans and teammates alike.

“Just seeing the fans and the crowd got me going. I missed it,” Bowman said after the 23-6 win. “The guys got excited for me also. My adrenaline was rushing and it just felt good just to hit someone.”

Of the tens of thousands of curious onlookers at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday, Tomsula was perhaps the least impressed by the comeback effort.

“Everyone here has seen how hard he’s worked to get back and how hard he’s been going in training camp to make sure he’s ready for this,” he observed. “To see him out there and be his old self, it’s what we’ve seen all training camp.”

–For the second week in a row, rookie running back Jarryd Hayne recorded a game-high rushing total.

But unlike his American football debut a week earlier at Houston, during which he rattled off a 53-yard run from scrimmage that caught the attention of his disbelievers, Hayne made his highlight-reel move on a punt return in Sunday’s 23-6 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

The former rugby standout ran with his back to the line of scrimmage to haul in a 66-yard punt by the Cowboys’ Chris Jones over his shoulder.

Hayne then reversed course and maneuvered through the Dallas punt-coverage team for a 27-yard return that set up the 49ers’ first scoring drive of the game.

“I literally just put my hands out and hoped it landed in my hands,” the Australian admitted.

He returned other punts 34 and 23 yards, and added 54 rushing yards on just eight carries in his second consecutive attention-grabbing performance.

Notes: Nose tackle Mike Purcell, one of 11 defensive linemen battling for maybe seven spots, picked off a Dustin Vaughn pass and chugged 37 yards for a touchdown. … The 49ers only other touchdown came when wide receiver Quinton Patton smothered a Tim Scott punt and scooped up the ball in the end zone. … There was one significant injury when backup inside linebacker Desmond Bishop damaged his thumb to the extent that it will require what Tomsula labeled Monday as a minor “procedure.” . … Other injuries included wide receiver Chuck Jacobs (sprained ankle), tight end Vance McDonald (sprained ankle), defensive end Tank Carradine (strained leg) and safety Craig Dahl (strained back). … Among those held out of the game were running backs Reggie Bush and Kendall Hunter, wide receiver/kick returner Bruce Ellington, center Daniel Kilgore, nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, inside linebackers Michael Wilhoite and Philip Wheeler, and safety Jimmie Ward.

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