49ers' Willis out for season with toe injury

Billy Hurst/AP file photoNiners linebacker Patrick Willis

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

Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs spoke to San Francisco’s new Guaranteed Income Advisory Group on April 16. (Courtesy SFGOV)
City launches task force to explore Universal Basic Income programs

San Francisco on Friday launched a guaranteed income task force that could… Continue reading

Muni’s K-Ingleside line will return six months earlier than previously announced. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
K-Ingleside train to return on May 15

Announcement comes on the heels of pressure from Supervisor Myrna Melgar

Demonstrators march from Mission High School towards the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Vigil, march honors those killed by police

Deaths of Daunte Wright, Roger Allen and others prompt renewed calls for defunding

A Recology employee stands at the comapany’s recycling facility on Pier 96 in 2016. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)
Nuru scandal: Feds charge second former Recology executive with bribery

A second former Recology executive is facing charges for allegedly bribing ex-Public… Continue reading

Skier Andy Padlo crosses a frozen Spicer Reservoir. (Courtesy photo)
Stormy weather tests skiers’ mettle on Dardanelle traverse

Overcoming challenges makes outings more rewarding

Most Read