Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

49ers head coach Jim Tomsula said he's monitoring NaVorro Bowman's reps

49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman may see his work load decrease as the season goes on.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Playing in his first regular season games since suffering an ACL and MCL tear in January 2014, San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman is having his reps monitored.

While still being very good against the run, Bowman hasn't quite been himself when it comes to pass coverage early on in the season.

Bowman has allowed 21 catches on 22 targets for the season, according to Pro Football Focus, for 202 yards. Both passing touchdowns he allowed came Sunday night, while the Giants were 10 of 10 when targeting him in coverage.

Eli Manning was completed all eight of his throws to running back Shane Vereen, including his second-quarter touchdown pass on an out route from the 2-yard line. And Bowman was also in coverage in the game-winning touchdown throw to 6-foot-6 tight end Larry Donnell.

Because of that, head coach Jim Tomsula Wednesday indicated the coaching staff is monitoring his reps, and could rotate him in and out more on passing downs as the season wears on.

"Those rep counts were getting a little high. That is something we’ve been taking a look at," Tomsula said.

The 49ers last week traded for former Vikings linebacker Gerald Hodges, a former safety at Penn State, who could potentially spell Bowman on long-yardage downs in order to decrease his overall rep count.

Hodges was inactive in Sunday's loss to the Giants while continuing to absorb defensive coordinator Eric Mangini's defense after playing in a 4-3 with Minnesota.

Despite the numbers not being in Bowman's favor in pass coverage, Tomsula didn't want to single him out, particularly after Eli Manning's 441-yard performance in Sunday's last-minute loss.

"We’ve got to get better, all of us. And we really need to get better in our coverage, we really need to do those things," Tomsula said.

Tomsula wouldn't say whether or not Hodges would be active for Sunday's game against the 1-4 Ravens. But he did like the first impression he made since coming over in the trade.

"Thought it was good. Bright guy. He’s got some energy to him. Again, we’ve known each other for a week," Tomsula said. "But, all those, all signs last week, I mean, you like the way a guy handles himself when he comes in and moving around and doing those things. I like the way he was into the linebacker coaches and the defensive stuff. He was into the special teams. And really his first impression here with us was a really good one.”

As has become customary, Bowman will not practice Wednesday in order to give his legs more time to recuperate each week.

"In terms of Bowman, I’m a Bo fan. I’m a Bo guy. Bo plays a lot of good football and you know, I’m excited about Bo,” Tomsula said.


Chris Biderman is the Editor-in-Chief of Niners Digest and covers the 49ers from their headquarters in Santa Clara. Chris has been writing about the team since the spring of 2013. The Ohio State alum received his Journalism degree in 2011 and has been working in sports media since 2008. Chris, a Santa Rosa, Calif. native, is also a contributor to the Associated Press covering sports throughout the Bay Area. You can follow Chris on Twitter here.

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