Jim Harbaugh today said he didn’t think Patrick Willis would be out long term with the toe injury he suffered Monday in St. Louis. The linebacker’s status for Sunday’s game against Denver, however, remains in doubt.
Asked on KNBR radio’s Murph & Mac show whether Willis had turf toe -- a sprained ligament in his big toe -- Harbaugh said, “It’s not turf toe, no, I wouldn’t say that. But he’s continuing to be evaluated. I don’t think it’s a long-term thing, so that’s a positive.”
Turf toe injuries can last a number of weeks as shown by cornerback Tramain Brock’s toe injury suffered in Week 1. Brock has not played since and is not expected to do so until after next week’s bye.
Rookie Chris Borland is expected to start Sunday in place of Willis. That would give the 49ers two backup inside linebackers -- Michael Wilhoite is the other -- at what has been their strongest position over the last three years.
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Meanwhile, Harbaugh said that Mike Iupati (concussion) “looked really good after the game” but still must pass the NFL’s post-concussion protocol in order to play Sunday. He said rookie nickelback Jimmie Ward (quadriceps bruise) and receiver Stevie Johnson (hip bruise) both were sore but that neither were considered long-term injuries.
“We might have dodged some bullets in all those regards,” Harbaugh said.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.