49ers' Willis out for season with toe injury

Billy Hurst/AP file photoNiners linebacker Patrick Willis

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis will miss the remainder of the season and require surgery for a strained muscle in his left big toe.

Willis was placed on the season-ending injured reserve list Tuesday for the injury suffered in the third quarter at St. Louis on Oct. 13.

A Pro Bowler all seven seasons in the NFL, Willis had missed six games in his career before this latest injury sidelined him for the final 10 games in 2014 for San Francisco (5-4). He had 34 tackles and an interception this season for the Niners.

Willis is a captain and leader of a 49ers team that has reached the NFC championship game in each of the past three seasons.

“We haven't lost him in the locker room,” linebacker Michael Wilhoite said. “We're still all together here. It hurts but at same time we need to keep going out and win games.”

Willis had hoped the injury wasn't so serious to sideline him long term. He missed practice last week after returning in a limited role the previous week.

After resting through the Oct. 26 bye, Willis was back as part of the 49ers' full active squad on the field for the start of practice Oct. 29, but he had been limited primarily to individual work.

This is a big loss to one of the NFL's leading defenses, though the 49ers are expected to have Aldon Smith back Sunday on the road against the New York Giants.

Smith is set to begin practicing this week after serving his nine-game suspension by the NFL for violations of the league's substance-abuse and personal-conduct policies.

In addition, 2013 All-Pro NaVorro Bowman could be cleared to begin practice this week, opening a 21-day window for the team to activate him or place him on IR.

Bowman is recovering from surgery on his left knee after he tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in a devastating injury in the NFC championship game loss at Seattle last January.

Rookie Chris Borland has filled in for Willis and been spectacular, recording 18 tackles in a loss to the Rams two weeks ago then 17 more tackles in an overtime win at New Orleans on Sunday.

The NFL Network first reported Willis would need toe surgery.

The Niners signed running back Alfonso Smith to replace Willis on the roster and added linebacker Shayne Skov to the practice squad.

Chris BorlandNFLPatrick WillisSan Francisco 49ers

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Tenderloin merchants, residents come together over street closures

Parts of Larkin, Golden Gate to close four days a week to promote outdoor business, dining

Enter ‘The Matrix’: Drive-in movies during a pandemic

Though it’s fun to take in a film and drink, I miss watching bartenders make cocktails

Twin Peaks closure leads to complaints from neighbors

Twin Peaks Boulevard will no longer be entirely closed to motor vehicles… Continue reading

David Kubrin on Marxism and magic in the Mission

Former academic, industrial designer pens book on alternative, or people’s, science

Fire danger high in North and East Bay as region enters another hot, dry weekend

Spare the Air Alert issued for Sunday as heat, smoke and fumes expected to increase

Most Read