While the San Francisco 49ers turn their focus to putting Sunday’s 23-17 loss in the NFC championship game behind them and looking ahead to next season, one of their best players will do so having to also overcome a potentially devastating knee injury.
Linebacker NaVorro Bowman appeared to make a game-changing play in the fourth quarter against the Seahawks, stripping Seattle receiver Jermaine Kearse of the ball deep in 49ers territory, with Seattle holding a 20-17 lead and less than 9 minutes to play. After Kearse caught the ball on a third-and-goal play from the 10, Bowman stripped him of the ball and went down to the ground with the ball.
But as numerous replays were shown repeatedly for a national (and international) TV audience, it became clear that Bowman went down because Kearse fell into the LB’s left knee and twisted it in a gruesome manner. After several minutes, Bowman was carted off the field. On the next play, the Seahawks again fumbled, this time running back Marshawn Lynch on a fourth-and-goal. The 49ers held, but the damage was done.
"I caught the ball, tried to protect myself and give the linebacker my back so I could protect the ball," Kearse told USA Today. "I felt my momentum going toward the end zone, so I tried to turn and someone hit me in my gut or in my stomach and that’s the last thing I kind of remember."
After the game, the losers’ locker room was a particularly somber place
bowman in locker room on crutches. Whole linebacker group, in silence, around him.