Niners general manager John Lynch said Bowman requested his release.
"NaVorro gave his heart and soul to this team for the last eight years, and for that we are all extremely grateful," 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. Thursday evening, Kyle [Shanahan] and I met with NaVorro, and from our conversation it became evident that going in different directions was best for both him and our team. Although NaVorro may be moving on, he will always be looked at as one of the great players to wear the red and gold. We wish him and his family great success."
Thus ends an amazing eight-year run in the Bay Area by the 2010 third-round pick. There are countless memorable plays Bowman made in San Francisco, from scoring the last touchdown ever at Candlestick on a pick-six, to his constant buzzing around the ball for double-digit tackle games.
Despite missing the entire 2014 season with a knee injury, Bowman registered 808 tackles, 12.5 sacks, four interceptions, seven forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and 28 passes defended with the 49ers. He was selected First-Team All-Pro, four times, including 2015 after his return from injury.
The 29-year-old, however, saw the end coming. He played just four games in 2016 before going on injured reserve. He then had his snaps curtailed last week as the Niners decided to play younger players.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Bowman's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, sent a letter to all 31 teams saying he had permission to seek a trade. Nothing materialized, leading to Bowman's release. Rapoport added that Bowman is expected to sign no later than Monday, based on interest.
Bowman remains on the right side of 30, but the injury history is a concern. While he is still stout against the run, the linebacker has struggled in coverage this season. Now that he's been released, we'd expect there to be a market for a savvy veteran on a playoff-caliber team needing run-stuffing depth.