Some are blaming Begovic for the goals conceded in their 2-2 draw with Newcastle United last week.
Asked how Begovic had responded, Howe said: "Asmir is the type of character who is very level headed and very serious with his training work. I've seen no change in him, he's been absolutely fine.
"Any mistake by goalkeepers gets highlighted but he has been a big player for us this season. He has had really good command of his box, has been very good on crosses and has made a number of key saves.
"We know the importance of him and back him 100 per cent.
"We have the type of mentality where we all need to bounce back, not Asmir. It's down to the team."
Francis said: "It would be special to finish above Southampton. Those bragging rights are important.
"Southampton are probably not too happy with the way they are doing at the moment but that's football.
"They have got a talented squad and I don't expect them to be down there so if we can finish above them come the end of the season, we will be in a fantastic position.
"We are in a massive stage of the season now, fighting for a top-10 position and looking to improve on last season."