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Niners LB NaVorro Bowman eyes return midway through 2014 season

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

NaVorro Bowman suffered a devastating knee injury in the NFC Championship Game. (USATSI)
NaVorro Bowman suffered a devastating knee injury in the NFC Championship Game. (USATSI)

San Francisco 49ers star linebacker NaVorro Bowman said Thursday that he is expecting to return by the middle of next season from a torn ACL.

Bowman suffered the injury during the NFC Championship Game -- a game the 49ers lost to the Seahawks -- while making a controversial recovery of a fumble that he didn't get credit for (the rule was later changed at the owners' meetings).

Bowman said Thursday on SportsCenter that he's "feeling good" and expects to play by the "middle of the season."

"Feeling good, feeling good. I'm blessed to be walking," Bowman said. "I put the hard work in already, playing through the pain, trying to get the knee straight. But it's coming along."

ACL recoveries these days are pretty quick. Just the fact that Bowman could even play in 2014 is a major improvement over timeframes from less than a decade ago. But we're not so far along that Bowman's going to be back too early in the year.

"I hope to be ready when they expect me to be ready. They're not going to rush me. Probably about the middle of the season."

That would be a win for the 49ers. They have plenty of players on defense -- including Bowman battery mate Patrick Willis -- but Bowman's a sneaky superstar, overshadowed at times by Willis' presence.

The faster he comes back the better, provided he's healthy.

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