It's looking more and more likely that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick will be in action on Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers come to town. As such, Vic Fangio will have to scheme up a definitive way to contain Vick and his rushing ability, not to mention that he's obviously a lot better than Mike Kafka is passing, as well. The worst thing a team can do against the Eagles and their offense is leave lanes open for Vick to take off in.
Fortunately, the 49ers have a great group of linebackers, especially in the middle, where Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman patrol the field. They're definitely two of the fastest linebackers in the league, and Bowman has really come into his own, as noted earlier today by Niners Nation. Bowman leads the team in tackles and has been a great asset with his athleticism.
It will probably be a combination of him and Willis on Vick all throughout the game, though the 49ers have already tipped their hands on that just a little. In week one, when the 49ers played host to the Seattle Seahawks, it was Willis who made sure quarterback Tavaris Jackson didn't secure any lanes to take off in. In the 3-4 defense, Bowman and Willis actually switched positions, though not officially. But Bowman was counted on for more coverage duties and was watching running backs and tight ends.
Look for more on that on Sunday. As Bowman continues to grow, coaches and analysts alike note that it's sometimes hard to tell if it was Willis or Bowman making the insanely athletic play, so Willis can be assigned to things that are better-suited for somebody with more seasoning and better instincts. What that really means is that the lines between MIKE and TED will be blurred for the 49ers, and Bowman will grow into much the same role that Willis has been in since the very second he stepped onto the field.
Many doubted Bowman's ability to come in and play TED, especially when Takeo Spikes was the starter. Bowman didn't have the size/frame to do what Spikes did, which was occupy blockers and be a karate-kick-throwing wall to any and all running backs. Those people were absolutely right in just about every way, save for the fact that Bowman was always billed as the kind of guy you need on the field, and somebody you adapt a defense to. So Bowman isn't trying to fill Spikes' shoes, he's got his own Willis-sized pair to work with.
So keep a look out on Sunday for which of the two will be covering Vick, because it definitely should be one of them.