SANTA CLARA, Calif. - With the start of the new season more than three months away, 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman has been working his injured knee back into playing shape during the team's voluntary offseason program this spring.
"I go out there some days and I feel great, and some days I have to fight through it," Bowman said after Friday's session, which included a goal-line interception of Colin Kaepernick in full-team drills.
"It messes with me sometimes, but just to get out there and do something is always good for the knee. As long as I can keep doing that, and get used it. I know I want to get back out there and play football."
The team's training staff has kept Bowman on a reps limit after tearing his ACL and MCL in his left knee that kept him sidelined for all of last season. He plans on practicing Saturday, which would mark the first time since sustaining the injury in January 2013 he will have practiced over four straight days.
"That’s what it’s all about - just building those days together and getting the knee used to being active all the time," said Bowman.
While he continues to deal with regular soreness in the knee, Bowman indicated it's nothing unexpected. He has not looked like a three-time All-Pro in practice, but with time, he believes he can return to the form that made him a candidate for defensive player of the year in 2013.
"No doubt," Bowman said. "The knee will get there. The knee will get to where it needs to be, maybe not as fast as you guys expect. But I’m definitely going to get back to that (All-Pro) level."
Part of the reason Bowman hasn't been flying around the field like he's used is the defense's new scheme he's learning. New defensive coordinator Eric Mangini has used the spring to install his new defense, which players say is significantly different from former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's.
Fangio's scheme was simplistic, and didn't rely heavily on blitzes or complicated looks. Under his watch, the 49ers were consistently in the bottom of the league when it came to blitzing percentage.
Players have said Mangini's scheme is more complicated, and relies heavily on moving around before the snap with more blitzing.
"We’re asked to do a lot more than what we were. It has its ups, and I think the only downs were that we weren’t used to it," Bowman said. "As we continue on throughout the weeks, when we get to talking a little more than what we did in the past, we’re all getting on the same page."