Bowman could miss half of '14

The San Francisco 49ers had to play a significant part of this past season without one of their top offensive players, Michael Crabtree. It appears they may have to do the same on the defensive side of the ball in 2014.

While speaking with media Thursday at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said a realistic time frame for inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman's return from injury is "halfway through the season."

Bowman tore the ACL in his left knee during the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game against Seattle. He had surgery Feb. 2.

"I wouldn't count him out of anything," Harbaugh said when asked if he thinks Bowman can be ready for Week 1. "Realistically, halfway through the season, something like that would be more realistic. But I never underestimate NaVorro Bowman. He's a supreme athlete, a world-class athlete among world-class athletes -- the way he moves, his strength, his powers of healing."

Typically, ACL recovery time is six to nine months. If Bowman misses time, the 49ers will likely insert Michael Wilhoite into the lineup. He played well in place of Patrick Willis after Willis was injured early last season.

ESPN.com's Mike Sando contributed to this report.