49ers holding NaVorro Bowman out

The long-awaited return of 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman to actual game action will wait at least a week.

Earlier in the week, 49ers coach Jim Tomsula said he expected Bowman to play in Saturday night’s preseason opener in Houston. But Bowman later said he wasn’t sure, and the team announced upon arrival to NRG Stadium that he would be held out.

Games are different,” Bowman said. “I’ve been pushing myself. I’ll get out there when I’m ready to go.”

Bowman suffered a gruesome knee injury in the NFC Championship Game 19 months ago. He’d established himself as one of the league’s top young linebackers.

Keeping him out of this game might not end up being a good thing for the 49ers, who lost fellow inside linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland to retirements in the offseason. Tomsula and new defensive coordinator Eric Mangini will get to see plenty of Shayne Skov, Nick Moody and Desmond Bishop against the Texans.

Other notable 49ers sitting out the preseason opener are tight end Vernon Davis, running back Reggie Bush, defensive tackle Darnell Dockett and safety Jimmie Ward.