NaVorro Bowman had to tell someone about his hefty new contract before it became public. And there was pal Patrick Willis first thing Tuesday before they began their morning workout.
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”He was excited as soon as I told him, when I wasn’t supposed to,” Bowman said about Willis, the godfather of Bowman’s twin girls born earlier this year. ”I couldn’t keep it from him. I think he has lot to do with this, helping me out.”
The 49ers’ inside linebacker pair of Bowman and Willis will be lining up together on San Francisco’s talented defense well into the future if all goes as planned.
On Tuesday, Bowman reached agreement on a five-year contract extension through the 2018 season – a deal worth $45.25 million, with $25.5 million in guaranteed money.
”Any time you get a chance to get a deal done and it sounds great and everybody’s comfortable with it, why not?” Bowman said. ”It shows the trust the organization has in me.”
With Bowman’s new deal, it keeps one of the best and most-feared linebacking tandems in the NFL together for the long haul – as Willis is signed through 2016.
The 24-year-old Bowman, a third-round draft pick in 2010 out of Penn State, has 100 tackles, two sacks and an interception this season as a second-year starter for the NFC West-leading Niners (8-2-1). As a rookie, his 20 special-teams tackles ranked third in the NFL.
He was an All-Pro pick alongside Willis last season, and was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate.
”That’s good, a young guy, a good guy, Pro Bowl, All-Pro guy to be around here another five years,” cornerback Carlos Rogers said.
In addition to Bowman and Willis, the team’s other two starting linebackers are signed at least for the next three seasons – Ahmad Brooks through 2017 and Aldon Smith through 2015.
”We have a chance to do something really special, with all four linebackers being here for the next three years,” Bowman said. ”We can make a statement for ourselves and leave a legacy for this defense.”
Bowman’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said he began talking about a new deal with the 49ers in the offseason but the sides were ”pretty far apart” at that stage.
”It’s a very special accomplishment. I take my hat off to the Niners and to NaVorro,” Rosenhaus said. ”I think only the most proactive teams get it done. I think this perhaps the most talented team in the NFL. If you want to keep all your good players, you have to get deals done now. You can’t let guys get to free agency. You can’t keep everybody.”
Bowman has credited his rapid development to the guidance he received from Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary, who was fired as San Francisco’s head coach after a loss at St. Louis in the second-to-last week of 2010.
”NaVorro epitomizes what we look for in a 49er,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. ”We are excited that the All Pro tandem of Willis and Bowman will be together in red and gold for years to come.”
While Bowman has never been one to set goals for statistics or accolades, anyone around the 49ers will be quick to acknowledge how much his improved play in 2011 meant to the franchise in getting back to the playoffs after an eight-year absence in coach Jim Harbaugh’s first year.
Bowman is a big reason San Francisco has been so strong stopping the run the past two years. The 49ers rank No. 2 in total defense this week, fourth against the run.
”It’s a good group of linebackers, probably the best in the league,” Rogers said. ”If not, they’re right there at the top.”
Willis, for one, is counting on a ”super nice” dinner from Bowman.
”A medium-plus steak with probably a lobster tail, so a little surf-n-turf deal, with some good mashed potatoes and some vegetables, yeah,” Willis said. ”And some ice cream for dessert – vanilla.”
Bowman is certain to oblige. Both of these two are more determined to get San Francisco to a Super Bowl than start comparing their paychecks (Willis still earns more).
”At the end of the day it’s not really about money,” Bowman said. ”We all play this game and we get paid a good amount of money, but all in all, people remember you for the wins and remember you for the team that you’re a part of.”