So happy together: Bowman, Willis paired through 2016


So happy together: Bowman, Willis paired through 2016

SANTA CLARA A somewhat soft-spoken NaVorro Bowman took to the outside podium at the 49ers practice facility at dusk Tuesday to address his new five-year contract extension, with the loud crashing and banging of stadium construction acting as a sound bed to his press conference.

NEWS: Bowman inks five-year deal

The beams and girders are still being loudly put into place, but Bowman now knows for certain that hes going to be taking snaps in what is sure to be a gorgeous new facility when it opens in 2014. In fact, the 6-foot, 242-pounder can now be considered a part of the concrete foundation of the team and its defense for the foreseeable future.

It means a lot. Ive been wanting to be here since the first day I got here, said the third-year linebacker out of Penn State. For me, to get this done and be here through 2018 is just a great thing.

The announcement comes in the middle of what can only be considered a successful season up to this point, as the 8-2-1 Niners have the second-best record in the NFC.

Why get it done now?

Bowman said: This is a very physical game. And whenever you have a chance to get a deal done, and it sounds good, and everyone is comfortable with it, why not? We take a lot of risks out there as football players. So for me, to get this deal done, just means a lot. It shows the organization trusts me and Im just happy to be a part of it.

The move ensures that Bowman and fellow linebacker and good friend Patrick Willis will be together through at least the 2016 season. In fact, Willis was among the first people Bowman gave his good news. He just couldn't keep the secret any longer.

As soon as I told him this morning -- I wasnt supposed to, but I couldnt keep it from him, Bowman said. He has a great deal to do with this, too, just playing beside him and him helping me through this season and last year.

Willis said: I just want to say, its trulytoday is a very blessed day. Not only for this organization, but for NaVorro and his family. I know hes going to continue to play hard, and continue to do all the things right to become an even better player. Truly blessed to have him here for a long time, and beside each other.

Bowmans agent Drew Rosenhaus revealed that he had been working with the 49ers organization since the start of the season, after he approached the team in the offseason. The two sides were originally far apart, according to Rosenhaus, but the agent had only good things to say about the teams front office for finalizing a deal on Tuesday.

Its a very special accomplishment. I take my hat off to the Niners and to NaVorro, Rosenhaus said. I think only the most proactive teams get it done. I think this is perhaps the most talented team in the NFL. If you want to keep all your good players, you have to get deals done now. You cant let guys get to free agency. You cant keep everybody.

Willis and his hefty salary threw a monkey wrench into the negotiation process, according to Rosenhaus. According to the NFL Networks Albert Breer, Bowmans new contract is worth 45.25 million over five years, with 25.5 million of that guaranteed. In the 2010 offseason, Willis inked a five-year, 50 million deal (29 million guaranteed).

Once we got to a level of guaranteed compensation, we knew we werent going to get caught up with who was making more. NaVorro was not about that, Rosenhaus said. We were very comfortable with this deal. Hes one of the top-five highest paid guys at the position. Hes gotten it earlier than just about anybody and were very comfortable with the deal.

Bowman said: In order for us to keep the guys that we have together, were going to have to give on each side. Thats what was done. We worked together. I wasnt mad about not getting paid more than Pat. Hes my brother. We play together, we play close together, and were making the same amount of money just about. Im happy about it, and I wont lose any sleep over it. Im glad to be a Niner for a few more years.

Willis doesnt seem too concerned, either. In fact, the godfather of Bowmans twin daughters only has one request for himself and his fiance.

"A super nice dinner. A medium-plus steak with probably a lobster tail, so a little surf-n-turf deal, with some good mashed potatoes and some vegetables, Willis said. And some ice cream for dessert. Vanilla."

Couture's father: Sharks center dealing with 'ugly injury' after puck to mouth

Couture's father: Sharks center dealing with 'ugly injury' after puck to mouth

After requiring a visit to a local hospital in Nashville due to being struck in the face with a deflected puck on Saturday night against the Predators, Logan Couture was able to fly back with the team to San Jose on Sunday morning.

The severity of his injury is still unknown, although his father, Chet, said on Twitter that it was “an ugly injury sadly.”

Another source close to the situation told CSN the injury is “brutal.”

Couture, who lost several teeth, visited with Sharks medical personnel on Sunday and a further update is expected on Monday. 

Perhaps the best-case scenario is that the injury looks a lot worse than it actually is, such as when Marc-Edouard Vlasic was sidelined for one week when he took a puck to the face from the stick Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere in late December.

Losing Couture for any period of time would be a difficult blow to the Sharks, who have lost their last six in regulation, including Saturday’s 7-2 defeat to the Predators. Couture is third on the team in scoring with 52 points, and has a team-leading 11 power play goals. He entered Saturday’s game with four goals and five assists in his last 10 games, and has arguably been the team’s best player since mid-January.

"You can't replace him, so it would be really tough,” Patrick Marleau said after the game Saturday. “But if that is the case, then guys are going to have to pull up the slack. Definitely we hope he's back sooner.”

Couture was set up just outside the crease in the third period when a Brent Burns point shot late in the second period hit a stick before squarely smacking into the 27-year-old’s mouth. He quickly skated to the dressing room under his own power with just 14 seconds before the intermission.

The Sharks have seven games remaining in the regular season, hosting the Rangers on Tuesday and visiting Edmonton and Calgary later this week. They are tied in points (91) with Anaheim and Edmonton in the Pacific Division.

Three takeaways: Sharks having trouble explaining meltdown

Three takeaways: Sharks having trouble explaining meltdown

NASHVILLE – The Sharks are returning to San Jose on Sunday in a crisis. Nothing good came from Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Nashville, their sixth straight in regulation. Let’s get to the painful three takeaways…

1 – No answers

Neither Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns nor Patrick Marleau – the three players made available to the media after Saturday’s game – offered any kind of in-depth analysis of what’s going wrong. Frankly, I’m not sure anyone really knows. It’s hard to believe that this is the same club that had lost just two games in regulation in its previous 14 before the losing streak began.

“If you’re putting a consistent effort in, battling, competing – it’s tough to lose six in a row,” Pavelski said. “You look at six in a row, and it just seems daunting. Like, how do you get there? So, I think we’ve just got to take a deep breath, really kind of refocus.”

Believe it or not, coach Pete DeBoer thought Saturday’s loss was “a step in the right direction” when asked why Friday night’s 6-1 beat down in Dallas wasn’t enough of a wake-up call. How often do you hear that after a five-goal defeat?

“I liked our game tonight better than I liked [Friday’s game] regardless of the score,” DeBoer said. “I don’t just look at the score. If you want to just judge it on the score than you might not say it’s a wake-up call, but I thought we were much more competitive tonight. 

“It was a step in the right direction. Every team goes through tough parts of the season, and this is ours. We’ve got a lot of character in the room. We’ll get through it.”

2 – Couture injury would spell doom, as Hertl still MIA

Let’s face it – if Logan Couture is out for any extended period of time, this team is DOA once the playoffs begin. Couture has been the Sharks’ best player since the All-Star break, and they don’t have anyone on the current roster or in the system that could replace him. As of Sunday morning, there was still no word as to the severity of his injury after taking a puck to the mouth and going to a local Nashville hospital.

If Couture were to miss time, Tomas Hertl would likely become the team’s second line center. Lately, though, Hertl doesn’t even resemble an effective third line center. He was victimized on Nashville’s first goal, which was similar to one of the Wild goals on Tuesday, when he was just too slow and not strong enough on his skates in getting outworked for a loose puck. He is scoreless in his last 12 games.

3 – Haley shows some emotion that others lack

It’s understandable that Micheal Haley didn’t like getting hit from behind by Calle Jarnkrok in the third period. But, you can’t just make a beeline for a guy and punch him in the face. Haley will almost certainly get suspended for the play.

At least, though, Haley showed a little bit of emotion in the game, including his first period fight with Cody McLeod. Perhaps guys like Hertl, Joonas Donskoi and Mikkel Boedker could take a lesson from the fiery Haley. Those three, in particular, have been virtually useless during this six-game stretch. 

If I’m DeBoer, I’d get on the phone with Doug Wilson and Roy Sommer and ask for a few guys from the Barracuda so I could – depending on the team’s health situation – scratch all three of them for Tuesday against the Rangers, or at least remove Boedker and Donskoi and put Hertl back on the wing. Drastic times call for drastic measures, do they not?