49ers release NaVorro Bowman after brief hunt for a trade partner


NaVorro Bowman’s time with the San Francisco 49ers is over after he was released by the team on Friday, the team announced at a press conference.

NaVorro gave his heart and soul to this team for the last eight years, and for that we are all extremely grateful, 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement. During that time, NaVorro was a key component of one of the best teams in the league and his passion for the game allowed him to quickly become a favorite of our faithful fans.

In a sense, Next Man Up is an essential and ordinary part of the lexicon. In a sport with so many injuries, a coach has no choice but to rely on a cut-rate, impersonal slogan to motivate and distract. While he’s telling his players to step up, team personnel are scanning the waiver wire, pulling up reports on practice-squad players and making calls on trades. It’s impossible to ignore statistics like this one: In 2015, NFL players missed 1,639 games — almost 100 per week — because of injury. Those three words — Next Man Up — have become such a vital part of the culture that many players hear it with the same anesthetized indifference.

Even when we watch other games, it gets lost, Vikings safety Harrison Smith says. We react the same way. There’s a human part of it that gets lost.

But sometimes an event changes all that. Whether through proximity or sheer gruesomeness, the collective pain of a group of men rises up to relegate Next Man Up to a heartless clich.

It was very surreal, Boone says of Bridgewater’s injury. Sometimes you forget how brutal this game can be.

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