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.”

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud


Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud

When the 49ers selected inside linebacker Fred Warner of BYU in the third round of the draft, it was easy to see how he fit into the team's plan with the degree of uncertainty surrounding Reuben Foster.

While Foster remained away from the team’s offseason program for five weeks, Warner felt a need to get up to speed quickly if he was needed to be a starter for Week 1 of the regular season. Warner said he was determined to learn as quickly as possible at whatever position he lined up.

“They want consistency over a guy who can make a play here and there,” Warner said on The 49ers insider Podcast. “Because if you’re a liability and you’re out there missing assignments, stuff like that, that’s going to get you cut. You have to be able to retain this information very quickly and be able to produce on the field and put a good product out there. That’s the biggest thing.”

The 49ers consider the middle linebacker (mike) and weakside linebacker (will) positions as nearly interchangeable. The major difference is the mike position is the player who communicates in the huddle. Malcolm Smith is lining up with the first team at mike, while Foster is at will. Warner is leading the second team at mike.

Foster joined the 49ers’ offseason for the final four weeks after a judge dismissed two felony charges of domestic violence. Warner knew all about Foster, the player, before meeting him as a teammate.

“He’s a very physical player, and something I didn’t know about him that I know now, he’s probably the smartest guy in the room,” Warner said. “This dude has the memory of an elephant. He doesn’t have to write notes down. He just retains things very quickly. And I think that’s what allowed him to play at such a high level as a rookie last year, aside from his physical talent.”

Warner has also learned a lot from Smith, who played six NFL seasons before sitting out last year with a torn pectoral.

“We’ve worked after practice on man coverage on tight ends and running backs.,” Warner said. “Even though that might not be something we touch on in practice or a meeting, he just wants to touch on that with me because he said, ‘If you can do this, you can play on any team in the NFL.’ “

One of the few critiques of the rookie during the offseason program is that Warner, who said he was a quiet kid as a youngster, has been a little too loud.

“He’s very smart and he plays like it on the field,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said during the first week of OTAs. “He doesn’t hesitate. He’s a rookie out there, but he’s calling the plays maybe even too loud because I can hear him from the offensive side. But, he doesn’t mind speaking up. He’s confident in what he’s doing.”

Warner said he wanted to win the confidence of his teammates, so that might have contributed to his increased decibel level.

“I want to make sure that when I get in that huddle and I’m talking to these guys, that they know that I know what I’m doing and I’m ready to go,” Warner said. “I’m the one who’s going to set the tone in the huddle before the play even happens.”

Former 49ers lineman Keith Fahnhorst, 66, passes away


Former 49ers lineman Keith Fahnhorst, 66, passes away

Keith Fahnhorst, who played 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and started on two Super Bowl-winning teams, died on Tuesday. He was 66.

Fahnhorst was among a large group of players from the 49ers’ first Super Bowl championship team that gathered at Levi’s Stadium in October in a celebration of Dwight Clark. Fahnhorst and Clark were teammates for the 49ers’ Super Bowl-titlle teams of 1981 and 1984. Clark passed away on June 6 from ALS.

Fahnhorst, who was in a wheelchair during his trip to the Bay Area last season, battled many physical ailments since his career ended in 1987. He was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and underwent a kidney transplant in 2002. Fahnhorst was also later diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

A second-round draft pick of the 49ers in 1974 from the University of Minnesota, Fahnhorst was a mainstay at right tackle as the organization struggled in the mid-to-late 1970s, then found success in the 1980s under coach Bill Walsh.

“Everybody knew they could count on Keith,” Walsh said in the 2005 book, “San Francisco 49ers: Where Have Gone?”

Fahnhorst appeared in 193 regular-season games, ranking behind only Len Rohde among offensive linemen in 49ers history. He started 170 games, including all 10 postseason games in which he appeared. He was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team and was selected as a first-team All-Pro after the 1984 season. He was a two-time winner of the Bobb McKittrick Award for best representing the courage, intensity and sacrifice displayed by the longtime 49ers offensive line coach.

Keith Fahnhorst and his younger brother, Jim, were 49ers teammates for the final four years of Keith’s career. Jim Fahnhorst, a linebacker, played for the 49ers from 1984 to 1990. Neither Keith nor Jim Fahnhorst played for any NFL team other than the 49ers.