NaVorro Bowman to return to practice

Linebacker NaVorro Bowman is expected to return to practice with the San Francisco 49ers this coming week after an MRI revealed no structural damage to his surgically repaired knee, which he seriously hurt in last year's NFC Championship Game, according to a league source.

Bowman told ESPN last Sunday that he still had pain in the knee and wasn't sure when doctors might clear him to practice.

The team sent him for a follow-up MRI that indicated no reason for concern.

The Niners have until Tuesday to start a 21-day window for Bowman to practice in an attempt to be activated to the 53-man roster or miss the entire season.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had said it was possible the team would shut down Bowman for the entire season, but it now appears that -- barring a setback -- the team will evaluate the player in practice sessions with the goal of having him play this season.