SANTA CLARA -- Linebacker NaVorro Bowman tore the anterior and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee during the 49ers' 23-17 loss at Seattle in the NFC Championship game, a league source said Monday.
A torn ACL was the preliminary report coach Jim Harbaugh gave after Sunday's game. Bowman hasn't commented yet about his injury. He was seen briefly Monday walking on crutches to an awaiting car at the team facility, while the 49ers held their final team meeting.
If Bowman needs support as he recovers this offseason, cornerback Chris Culliver knows firsthand the challenges that await the 49ers' star linebacker. "I'll be there every step of the way and help him out in anything he needs," said Culliver, who missed this season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in training camp.
Safety Eric Reid said Bowman was "surprisingly optimistic" on Sunday night's flight home. "He sacrificed his body for this team," Reid said. "He's our leader and arguably the best player that we have. To see him go down, it hurts."
Bowman won the team's most prestigious honor, the Len Eschmont Award, while leading the team in tackles and getting a career-high five sacks in the regular season. He also repeated on the AP All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams.
"Prayers out to my brother (Bowman). Very tough guy so I know he will get through this like a champ," linebacker Darius Fleming tweeted. Fleming, Culliver, Tank Carradine, Mario Manningham and Marcus Lattimore all battled ACL injuries this season.
Culliver said he's recovered from his ACL tear and gauged that the process could take between nine months to a year, depending on the work put into it.
Gore held an autograph signing in Burlingame at Lefty's Sports shop, which posted news on its social-media forums that Gore played Sunday through his hand injury that may require surgery Tuesday.
Neither the 49ers nor Gore's agent could be immediately reached for confirmation.
The Dallas Cowboys' DeMarco Murray was assigned Gore's Pro Bowl spot.
Staley sustained a compound dislocation of his right thumb in Sunday's first quarter. He needed four stitches to close the wound and played through the injury, missing only one snap.
Kansas City's Derrick Johnson will replace Bowman, Chicago's Kyle Long will replace Iupati, and Buffalo's Marcell Dareus will replace Smith.
"Most definitely, we'll have a vendetta out for them," Brooks said.
Strong safety Donte Whitner said he and his teammates are disappointed for more than missing out on playing in the Super Bowl for the second straight year.
"It makes it a little worse, because I wanted to send those fans home crying," Whitner said of the Seahawks' fan base. "And we had an opportunity to do that on the last drive."