Linebacker Michael Wilhoite will have an MRI on his injured ankle, 49ers coach Jim Tomsula said Wednesday, setting the stage for Gerald Hodges’ first start for the team Sunday in Cleveland.
Hodges played 83 percent of the defensive snaps after Wilhoite left in the first quarter of last Sunday’s win over the Bears, and he made six tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
“He played well,” Tomsula said. “Again, we’ve got to keep cleaning up – not just Gerald, but all of us there – and staying on the same page and playing that box tight.”
When the 49ers acquired Hodges from Minnesota in an early October trade, they said the former Penn State linebacker was someone they had their eye on in the 2013 draft. The Vikings took Hodges in the fourth round, No. 120 overall. The 49ers, who had the most picks that year, took outside linebacker Corey Lemonier late in the third round and receiver Quinton Patton and running back Marcus Lattimore in the fourth round after Hodges was taken.
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In other injury news, left tackle Joe Staley did not practice because of a knee issue he’s battled in recent weeks. Staley had an uncharacteristically bad game against the Bears, giving up two sacks, four quarterback hurries and finishing with a minus-4.3 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus.
Tight end Vance McDonald and outside linebacker Aaron Lynch are in league-mandated concussion protocol after leaving Sunday’s game.
Tomsula said the 49ers will wait to see McDonald’s progress before adding another tight end. Rookie Blake Bell is the only healthy tight end on the 53-man roster, but Brian Leonhardt and Jamie Childers are on the practice squad.
“We’re going to see where (McDonald) is before we do anything,” Tomsula said. “We’re monitoring that.”
Brooks not benched? – Tomsula said there was “no controversy” with outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who was kept out for a long stretch of Sunday’s game after he was seen throwing his helmet on the sideline.
Brooks, who was benched twice last season, said after Sunday’s game the coaches wanted to give Lemonier and rookie Eli Harold more action. Lemonier and Harold didn’t make it onto the stat sheet despite their considerable playing time, and neither has a sack this season. Brooks re-entered the game after Lynch suffered his concussion in the third quarter.
“Just disregard it,” Brooks said Wednesday. “There’s nothing to write about. It’s not going to help the team out, so we just don’t need to talk about it.”
Asked if everything had been worked out, Brooks said, “Everything’s not worked out, but everything is cool.”