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How NaVorro Bowman Landed on the Chargers Coaching Staff

Bowman Feature

Chargers linebackers coach NaVorro Bowman took a hiatus from football after retiring in 2018 — but the game never left his mind.

The sport remained something he would place close attention to and often watched the games feeling as though he would be able to help other players.

And after five years away from football the former All-Pro linebacker decided it was time to get back into it, this time as a coach.

"I think I really just wanted to be around my kids and give them some time, take some weight off my wife and things like that," Bowman said. "I enjoyed it. As I was watching football, I literally wanted to give information to people that were doing things wrong.

"I called [Maryland Head Coach] [Mike] Locksley and he invited me up there with no hesitation," Bowman added. "I'm blessed to have had that opportunity."

The Maryland native got his coaching start in May 2023 with the Terrapins, where he held the role of defensive analyst.

Bowman wanted to ease into coaching and Maryland was the perfect place to do it.

It's there where he saw football from a different perspective than he did when he was on the field himself and where he gained a deeper understanding of what it meant to be a coach.

"You see the other side. As a player, you realize how much goes into it from a coaching perspective," Bowman said. "It just allowed me to understand that coaching is really all about servicing the players and being available to give them what they need so that they can go out there and mirror you, as a coach."

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Along the way, Bowman talked to Chargers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, who was his head coach during his time in the middle of the San Francisco defense.

After talking about a possible coaching opportunity down the road if it ever came to be, Bowman knew he had to be prepared for whatever moment it would come.

And that opportunity came earlier this year with the Chargers.

"We had some showings in San Fran where Jim showed up," Bowman said. "I would throw it across his ear and see what he says. He was like, 'Yeah.' No hesitation.

"I got myself prepared and started in that year-and-a-half at Maryland, just started really understanding the coaching side and being prepared for when the opportunity presented itself," Bowman added. "I'm just blessed, man. Blessed to be here. Blessed for him to believe in me to do this job. I'm attacking it like I should."

Bowman knows exactly the kind of coach Harbaugh is — and what kind of success he can bring to the team and its players.

The linebacker earned three of his four All-Pro selections as a player for Harbaugh and was an integral part of the defense that helped the 49ers get to three straight NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl appearance.

Now he will help the Chargers Head Coach in a different way as he believes he fits right into what the team is trying to do.

"I left it all out there on the field for him. Just his pre-game speeches and how he prepared us throughout the week, you just knew who you were coming to work for," Bowman said about Harbaugh. "Being able to understand his message and get his nod, his approval on how I played, it's my job to get guys to play that way and do the things that he expects us to do — or the players to do, I should say.

"I think I'm going to that. I think I fit right in," Bowman added. "The guys just enjoy everything that we have going on right now."

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His playing experience has been invaluable early on as he continues through his coaching journey on the Bolts.

Being a coach and former player has allowed him to communicate with the group in his room in multiple different ways and make certain things clearer in ways only a former All-Pro could.

"I think I was always like that as a player, just trying to dissect the coach's brain and just wanting to know everything," Bowman said. "Usually the coach, they don't give it to you that way. They give it to you for a player.

"I think it benefits the players just having me here and being able to give it to them both ways, just being able to say, 'Okay, you don't understand it this way. Let me break it down to you how you and your teammate would talk about it,'" Bowman added. "I think that's relieved the guys a lot in our room."

Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman has seen that in action in the position room as well, where they've been able to learn from one of the best.

"He's a player's coach," Perryman said. "Somebody played the game, especially at the position at a high level… they understand the game and it makes it a lot easier for us to go out there and play."

His first coaching job in the NFL has been one he has attacked the same as when he was a player — putting in the work to try and pick up the most he can and in the process, helping the young Bolts linebacker room grow heading into 2024.

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