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NaVorro Bowman could return at season's midpoint

The San Francisco 49ers have a loose timetable in mind for All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

Niners defensive coordinator Vic Fangio told reporters on Friday that Bowman is not expected to return until the midpoint of the season, according to the Bay Area News Group. Bowman -- who is recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL -- was placed on San Francisco's physically unable to perform list on Thursday.

Bowman is expected to begin the season on the Niners PUP list as well, which would make him ineligible for the first six games of the season. If the Niners go that route, Bowman's first chance to return would be a Week 7 Sunday Night Football matchup against the Denver Broncos.

Bowman suffered a grisly knee injury in the second half of the Niners' NFC Championship Game loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Jan. 19. He underwent surgery on Feb. 4.

Michael Wilhoite is expected to start in Bowman's place until the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker can return to the lineup. The Niners have a Week 8 bye, making Bowman's most likely return date a Week 9 matchup against the St. Louis Rams.

That would be two days shy of nine months from the date of his surgery.

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