49er players shocked, surprised at release of Bowman

49er players shocked, surprised at release of Bowman

Before Friday’s practice, Kyle Shanahan called a team meeting to tell the players NaVorro Bowman, the four time All Pro linebacker, had been released. The news caught even the most veteran players off guard.

“I’m shocked. I didn’t see the writing on the wall,” said Daniel Kilgore. The center and Bowman had been teammates for seven seasons.

“It’s tough, man. We spent a lot of time together. Our families have spent a lot of time together,” Kilgore said.

“I think everybody was pretty surprised,” added tackle Joe Staley, the longest tenured player on the 49ers. “I have nothing but positive things to say about NaVorro and the leader he’s been and the player he’s been here. He’s a great person. A hell of a teammate.”

Shanahan and John Lynch made the decision to release Bowman at the linebacker’s request. Bowman’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, contacted the general manager to discuss Bowman’s reduced playing time on Monday, following the 49ers 26-23 overtime loss to the Colts. Rookie Brock Coyle was subbed in for Bowman for a few series throughout that game. From the locker room afterward, Bowman told NBCSportsBayArea.com he knew he would be coming off the field, but in no way did he agree with the decision.

“They’re doing what they want to do, and . . . I don’t know. I don’t like it. Nobody likes coming out of the game, but I’m a team player,” Bowman said.

“They told me. But it’s hard to do that in the midst of a tough game. No player likes being taken out.”

Shanahan and Lynch met with Bowman after Thursday’s practice. The head coach intended to stick with his plan to limit Bowman’s time believing it would keep his legs fresher in a defensive scheme which, he says, requires the eight year veteran to run more and cover more ground. Bowman was not satisfied with his status and the parties began searching for a trade.

Lynch said the 49ers contacted every team in the league and had one deal in place. The trade did not appeal to Bowman. Instead, he asked for his release in order to work out his own deal with any of the 31 remaining teams. Shanahan realizes the decision may be difficult for many players on the team to understand.

“I hope they respect what our intentions are, and that no matter how hard it is, we are going to do what is best for this team,” Shanahan said. “I know whenever you are talking to a group of guys that lost a brother in that way, a good friend to everybody, it’s always a tough conversation. But I think our team, we’ve got a strong team, and I think our team will respond.”

Shanahan says Reuben Foster will move to Bowman’s ‘mike’ position, though he does not yet know if he will play against Washington this weekend. The first round draft pick returned to practice this week after missing more than a month with an ankle injury. The rookie says he learned quite a few things from Bowman in the time they were teammates.

“Toughness, pride, just different schemes, different reads, different reads that I never learned in college. It’s tough because we made a bond, and that’s my brother,” Foster said. “Just know that it’s a business, but at the end of the day it’s your heart too.”

What makes the loss of a valued teammate a bit easier is knowing Bowman has more business to tend to.

“He’s NaVorro Bowman. He’s played at an elite level his entire career, and he’s going to continue to do that wherever he goes,” Kilgore said.

Added Foster, “Wherever he’s at, wherever he goes, he’s going to do great. His career is not over with yet. Trust me.”

Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'


Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

The 49ers’ coaching staff made its feelings known to center Daniel Kilgore throughout the season.

But, in the past, that would not have necessarily meant everyone in the organization had the same thoughts about Kilgore, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

“The whole season, coaches and I had a good relationship,” Kilgore said Wednesday on conference call with Bay Area reporters. “Just talking and having one-on-ones with various coaches, I had a positive outlook for the future.

“But that’s just one thing. The coaches have an opinion of you, but then there’s also the front office. That’s two totally different things. And I think for the first time in a long time, our coaches and the front office are on the same page.”

Kilgore was working out back home in Tennessee on Wednesday when he signed a three-year contract to avoid hitting the free-agent market. Kilgore, 30, a seven-year NFL veteran, described the contract as a team-friendly deal.

The 49ers presented Kilgore with a contract offer during the season but negotiations did not get serious until just recently. While the 49ers expressed interest in retaining Kilgore, he said he did not know what the future held for him when he packed his belongings from the locker room on the day after the season ended.

“It kind of makes you nervous because in this profession, people like the younger guys,” Kilgore said. “You just never know what will happen at any time, any given day, in the NFL. So toward the end, that last day of clearing out the locker, I didn’t know if I’d be back. I didn’t know if the Niners would want me back.”

Kilgore was named the winner of the organization’s top honor for an offensive lineman. Kilgore won the Bobb McKittrick Award for best exemplifying the dedication, excellence and commitment of the long-time 49ers offensive line coach. Kilgore started all 29 games in which he appeared the past two seasons, including a career-high 16 games last season.

"I've been here seven years and I consider the Bay Area my second home,” Kilgore said. “To be able to extend my career wearing the 49ers jersey was special to me. This team is heading in the right direction, I wanted to be a part of it."

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

Matt Maiocco

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

When Jimmy Garoppolo signed a contract that could pay him up to $137.5 million over the next five years, he was asked what convinced him during his nine weeks with the organization that he wanted to be with the 49ers for the long term.

“I think it was a number of things,” Garoppolo said last week. “The team, the acceptance that they had of me when I first got here from the get-go, the coaching staff, Kyle and Rich. It was a very welcoming environment, and I really liked that. We had some success down the stretch, and you could see that pieces were falling into place. We've got a long way to go, but I think we're moving in the right direction.”

Kyle, of course, is head coach Kyle Shanahan. Rich Scagarello is the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach, and the person from whom Garoppolo spent the most time after arriving in Santa Clara on Oct. 31 after a trade with the New England Patriots.

Garoppolo earned $3.5 million in his first four NFL seasons. His new contract makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player, making an average of $27.5 million per season, with $48.7 million fully guaranteed.

Scangarello, appearing this week on The 49ers Insider Podcast, talked about what he learned about Garoppolo from working so closely with him to teach him Shanahan's offense. Scangarello said there is no question in his mind the money will not change Garoppolo’s approach to his work.

“That’s why it was easy for the organization and everyone to invest in somebody like Jimmy Garoppolo,” Scangarello said. “I just think that’s not the kind of person he is. If you met his family, you know where he comes from, what he’s about. His brothers, his parents, are just good, solid people people. He’s made of the right stuff and I just don’t see that affecting him in that way.

“It’s just not who he is. That’s the fun part of working with somebody like that every day. When they’re really talented and they appreciate everything and they work at it, you have a chance to be a successful organization and they can be a great player. And I don’t think those things will ever affect him.”