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The 2014 NFL regular season is scheduled to kick off exactly seven months from the day 49ers All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee.
Renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews performed surgery on Bowman’s knee on Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla., a source told CSNBayArea.com. Bowman sustained damage to his MCL on the same play late in the NFC Championship game. The MCL does not require surgery, but it was necessary that the swelling subside and the MCL stabilize before the ACL could be repaired.
[RELATED: 49ers' Bowman: 'Time for surgery']
Andrews, the most-celebrated surgeon of American athletes, has already had a busy NFL offseason of ACLs with surgeries on back-to-back days in early-January on New England tight end Rob Gronkowski and Denver outside linebacker Von Miller.
Dr. David Chao, an NFL team physician for 17 years and elected member of the prestigious international ACL study group, said if things go smoothly a return after ACL surgery is typically six to nine months. Chao advises that there is no set timetable for a return to action.
Three high-profile NFL players, on whom Andrews performed ACL surgeries, returned to action in about eight months. But the on-field play after those returns were mixed.
Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson underwent ACL surgery on Dec. 30, 2011. He was cleared to return to practice in the following training camp, on Aug. 12, 7 ½-months later.
Peterson did not participate in any exhibition games. And when he returned for the regular season, he was spectacular. Peterson gained 2,097 yards, averaged 6.0-yards a carry, and scored 12 touchdowns.
Andrews performed surgery on Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III on January 9, 2013. He was on the playing field eight months later at the start of the 2013 season after Andrews remarked publicly that Griffin’s rehabilitation was “superhuman.”
But Griffin’s on-field production dropped off in all areas after a fantastic rookie season. He was down in all statistical areas, and his passer rating plummeted from 102.4 to 82.2.
After a late-November game against Griffin, 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks told CSN Washington: "He's a man, he has the heart of a warrior and is going to go out there and play regardless of the circumstance. Everybody can see it. Everybody can see it. He shouldn't be playing."
A couple weeks later, then-Washington coach Mike Shanahan decided to shut down Griffin for the final three games of the regular season.
Houston linebacker Brian Cushing also made his return to action in eight months. He underwent ACL surgery on Oct. 25, 2012, and Andrews cleared him for the opening of training camp in July 2013. Cushing played seven games before sustaining his second-season ending injury in two seasons -- a broken fibula and torn lateral-collateral ligament in the same knee.
There's a strong likelihood that Bowman will make a complete recovery. In November 2012, the 49ers signed Bowman to a contract extension through the 2018 season. The organization will undoubtedly have Bowman's long-term future in mind when devising their plan for his rehabilitation and return to action.