Patrick Willis’ left big toe is likely to keep him out of Sunday’s showdown with Peyton Manning and the Broncos, the web site Pro Football Talk reported today in citing a league source.
The 49ers linebacker sprained a toe ligament – an injury known as “turf toe” – late in the second quarter of Monday’s 31-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams and did not return to the game.
Rookie Chris Borland took over at the “Mike” linebacker spot and played well. Borland, who had two tackles and defended two passes in the second half, likely will start next to Michael Wilhoite on Sunday in Denver.
Willis had a walking boot on his left foot following Monday’s game and he had an MRI today.
Turf toe injuries can linger, especially if players try to return to the field too soon.
Defensive end Quinton Dial suffered the injury while at Alabama, continued to play on it, then had to have surgery in the offseason. He missed the offseason of his rookie year with the 49ers while recovering. Another defensive starter, cornerback Tramaine Brock, suffered turf toe in Week 1. He has not played since and is unlikely to return until after next week’s bye.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.