49ers lose Bowman, Iupati to injuries

Staff writerJanuary 19, 2014 

Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse lands on 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman's leg in the fourth quarter. Bowman was taken from the field on a cart.

JOE BARRENTINE — The News Tribune

— San Francisco 49ers All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman suffered what is believed to be a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, which could require reconstructive surgery this offseason.

“Preliminary, it looks like an ACL,” coach Jim Harbaugh said after Sunday’s 23-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. “Tough break for NaVorro.”

Bowman, who had been among the defensive player of the year hopefuls, was injured with 8 minutes, 45 seconds remaining when he forced a fumble near the goal line.

“I look up, and NaVorro has the ball, and I’m thinking, ‘That’s a heck of a play; he got the ball,’ ” fellow linebacker and close friend Patrick Willis said.

“Then all of a sudden, I don’t know what happened. I was looking at him, and he didn’t have the ball anymore. He was holding his knee and was yelling. That’s when, I don’t know, I kind of lost track of where the ball was and more so just worried about him. I never heard him yell like that or even stay down for a moment.”

Bowman stripped the ball from Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse at the San Francisco 1-yard line. Kearse was hit by 49ers safety Eric Reid and was knocked into Bowman’s extended left leg.

Bowman’s knee awkwardly bent inward. Players in the pile trying to find the fumble immediately started waving to the San Francisco sideline for help.

Bowman was carted off the field in a frightening scene.

“Bo was like our leader,” 49ers nose tackle Glenn Dorsey said. “A great football player, a great human being. Just to see that happen is really unfortunate. I know he’s going to train hard, rehab hard and come back even stronger.”

In the second quarter, the 49ers lost starting left guard Mike Iupati to what the team believed is a fractured ankle. The former Idaho standout was injured on Anthony Dixon’s 1-yard touchdown dive.

He slowly left the locker room on crutches with a walking boot on his left foot. Iupati was down on the field for several minutes, then had to be helped to the sideline by teammates. Iupati eventually was taken to the locker room on a cart.

The 49ers briefly lost running back LaMichael James after he took a hit from Seattle’s Ricardo Lockette on a punt return.

James, a former Oregon standout, was on his back on the field for several minutes before being helped to the sideline with his arms around trainers, but he was back out after halftime.

James had attempted to field the punt from Seattle’s Jon Ryan on the first play of the second quarter, but the ball hit off his chest. As James attempted to reach for the ball, Lockette hit him hard to the turf.

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com; blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks

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