There were holes all over the defense missing stars missing pieces.

And NaVorro Bowman played like a man trying to fill all the holes.

“The way he led on defense was outstanding” Jim Harbaugh said.

The 49ers a team that suffered few injuries on their way to the Super Bowl last season have been riddled with losses early this season. In their fourth game of the season they were missing their nose tackle Ian Williams to a broken ankle pass-rusher Aldon Smith to alcohol rehabilitation and Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis was inactive for the game with a groin pull.

Into the void stepped Bowman who – overshadowed by his more famous or flashy teammates – has become the 49ers best player on defense.

He had two sacks a forced fumble a near interception and six tackles.

“I didn’t necessarily put it on my own shoulders but I like to look at it as raising the game” he said. “If a link gets taken out of the chain someone has to step up. And being a veteran guy you have to think like that if you want to be the best. I was just playing my game.”

Bowman said he had plenty of motivation.