"NaVorro gave his heart and soul to this team for the last eight years, and for that we are all extremely grateful", 49ers GM John Lynch said in a press release.
"Thursday evening, Kyle (Shanahan) and I met with NaVorro, and from our conversation it became evident that going in different directions was best for both him and our team. We wish him and his family great success".
And while Bowman was surely a major presence within San Francisco's defense heading into this season, it didn't take much to see he had lost a step. The team signed Bowman to a four-year extension in 2016, locking him into the team until 2022.
Bowman, who has an $11.99 million salary cap number next season, doesn't appear to be in the 49ers' long-term plans.
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Bowman thrice made the Pro Bowl in a 49ers' uniform, and was an All-Pro four times.
After missing the entire 2014 season due to injury, Bowman returned to action in 2015 and led the National Football League with 154 total tackles, according to gamebook statistics.
First-round rookie linebacker Reuben Foster is set to return to limited action against Washington Sunday after being sidelined with a high ankle sprain since the team's Week 1 matchup against the Panthers.
Even if the Colts don't sign him, they should and probably will at least kick the tires and reach out to Bowman's agent. He ranks seventh overall in tackles (505) during that span, despite missing 20 games to injury over two of the past three seasons. The pair instead elected to release Bowman and give him a choice of where he went next.