NaVorro Bowman (knee) cleared to return to practice

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The San Francisco 49ers lost one star inside linebacker for the season but could soon have another one back.

NaVorro Bowman has been cleared to return to practice and will do so next week, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday, per a source who has spoken to the player.

The All-Pro is currently on the physically unable to perform list after suffering a torn ACL and MCL in the NFC Championship Game loss to the Seahawks. One of the best inside 'backers in the game, Bowman will provide a huge boost to a 49ers team that just lost Patrick Willis for the season to a toe injury.

Rookie Chris Borland has shined in Willis and Bowman's absence, posting 11 tackles and a key overtime fumble recovery in last week's 27-24 win over the New Orleans Saints. The 49ers also return Aldon Smith from suspension Sunday, so the team should be in good shape as they push for the playoffs at 5-4.

Once Bowman begins practicing, the team will have 21 days to activate him from the PUP list. His return can't come soon enough for a team that can ill afford a loss.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast previews every Week 11 game and recaps the Dolphins' key victory over the Bills. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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