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Morning Tailgate: Willis Injures Hand

Posted Aug 1, 2013

The 49ers may be without the services of six-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker Patrick Willis.


The 49ers may be without the services of six-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker Patrick Willis. Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported that Willis has a slight fracture in his right hand and the team will proceed with caution, likely keeping the star linebacker on the shelf until the regular season.

Willis appeared to suffer the injury in a one-on-one blitz pickup drill going against starting fullback Bruce Miller at Wednesday’s training camp practice.

The 49ers have not officially commented on the injury, but Jim Harbaugh is scheduled to speak to the media today around 4:00 p.m. PT. Perhaps the head coach will share an update on Willis’ health.

[ PHOTOS - TRAINING CAMP JULY 31 ]

Prior to the injury, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio raved about Willis’ development entering year seven of his career.

“He’s got elite talent and he’s an elite person and worker,” Fangio said. “I just think he’s become a better player overall. I think he has a better understanding of the game now. I think he accepts challenges. He knows we rely on him and put him in some tough positions and he cherishes that and relishes in it. I just think he’s become a much better mental football player than he was earlier in his career.”

Fangio also mentioned that there’s not a clear-cut leader to be the team’s backup inside linebacker. Now that Willis appears to be on the mend, Fangio and his defensive staff will be able to evaluate the depth of the group.

NaVorro Bowman has also been hampered by an undisclosed injury. He sat out of Tuesday’s practice and did not finish Wednesday’s session despite taking part in individual, blitz pickup and 7-on-7 periods.

Young linebackers Michael Wilhoite, Nate Stupar and Nick Moody are in line to compete for more snaps.

More training camp headlines can be found in today’s Morning Tailgate.

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle looked at the depth on the 49ers defensive line.

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News runs down the highlights from Wednesday’s practice.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee shared notes on Nnamdi Asomugha’s big day.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com detailed the wide receivers set to work out for the 49ers, including Laurent Robinson.

Maiocco also shared his practice notes.

49ers.com provided updates from practice, including  notes on the red zone dominance by the 49ers offense.

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