In his second NFL season, Bowman became the starter at inside linebacker with the departure of Takeo Spikes to free agency. Starting all 16 games and playing alongside All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis, Bowman made huge strides and finished the year with 143 tackles, two sacks, eight pass deflections, and three fumble recoveries. In addition, he was also the team leader in tackles, while finishing second in the NFL in solo tackles. With the emergence in Bowman's play, he helped a top-ranked 49ers defense set a NFL single-season record of not allowing a rushing touchdown for 14 games. The previous record was held by the 1920 Decatur Staleys, who did not allow a rushing touchdown in a 13-game season. The 49ers finished with a 13–3 record for an NFC West pennant but lost to the eventual Super Bowl champ New York Giants 17–20 in the NFC Championship Game in overtime. Although he was not voted to the Pro Bowl for his stellar season, he was named to the First-Team All-Pro by the Associated Press. He was also voted No. 85 on NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2012, which recognizes performance from the previous season.
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