Vic Fangio: NaVorro Bowman return 'later than sooner'

NaVorro Bowman is eligible to come off San Francisco's reserve/physically unable to perform list after Week 6, but 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio confirmed Tuesday that the All-Pro linebacker's return from reconstructive knee surgery will come "later than sooner."

"NaVorro's doing well in his rehab," Fangio told KNBR-AM, per "He still has to be out two more games at least, and he'll be out several after that. But he's doing well. He's had no road blocks in his rehab. Everything's gone smooth, he's ahead of where he should be, and we're looking forward to his return at some point."

Bowman began sprinting last month, but Fangio acknowledged that it's a mistake to assume the Pro Bowl selection will suit up "around the corner."

"Correct. His procedure was done in February," Fangio said. "It's not like he got hurt in the middle of the season last year. His rehab has gone great, but you still need enough time to rehab and recover. And he's going to need a couple weeks of practice, too, to get his legs under him and to feel comfortable playing on his leg."

Bowman needs to be viewed as a candidate for snaps sometime after Week 9. That still leaves the talented linebacker plenty of time to make an impact during a late stretch of games that includes the Saints (Week 10), Seahawks (Week 13 and Week 15), Chargers (Week 16) and Cardinals (Week 17).

With Michael Wilhoite doing a capable job in Bowman's place and the suspended Aldon Smith eligible to return in Week 11, San Francisco's defense is a candidate to reach full power just in time for winter.

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