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SEATTLE – The 49ers sustained two severe injuries to front-line players in their season-ending loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman sustained a torn ACL in his left knee, according to preliminary examinations, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. And left guard Mike Iupati suffered a broken left ankle, Harbaugh said. Both players left the 49ers' locker room on crutches.
Bowman sustained the injury in the fourth quarter of the 49ers’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game.
“I know how tough he is,” 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said. “When he couldn’t get up on his own and I could hear him yelling, at that point I didn’t even care where the ball was.”
Iupati sustained his injury on Anthony Dixon’s 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter when he got caught under the pile.
Bowman will undergo surgery to repair the damage to his knee. Conceivably, Bowman could be ready for the opening of the 2014 season after spending the entire offseason rehabilitating his injury.
“If he doesn’t get Defensive Player of the Year, I don’t know what they go by,” Willis said. “Most important, I just pray he’s all right. I just saw him a little bit after the game.
“I know that he wanted nothing more than to be out there and finish that game with us. Win, lose or draw, I know he wanted to be there with us. He’s going to be all right. He’s strong mentally and physically strong.”
Bowman sustained the injury as he was making a tackle of wide receiver Jermaine Kearse on a play at the goal line. Bowman’s leg was caught under Kearse, who fumbled. Bowman appeared to have control of the ball, but Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch was credited with the fumble recovery.
The missed call on the apparent turnover was not costly to the 49ers, who held on the fourth-down play and took over at the Seattle 15-yard line after the Seahawks fumbled on the next play.