Willis expects to return after bye week

The 49ers and Patrick Willis dodged another bullet with his toe injury, he said Friday. Included is the complete injury report for Sunday night's game against the Broncos.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Patrick Willis believes he can return to the field to play the Rams Nov. 2 following the 49ers' bye week, which comes after Sunday's tilt with the Denver Broncos.

"Yes, sir. I really do," Willis said Friday. "I don’t want to jinx it. All I’m going to say is each day I feel a little bit better. So we’re going to take it one day at a time and continue to listen to our trainers and continue to stay focused and mentally prepared."

Willis suffered a toe injury late in the second quarter in Monday's 31-17 win over the Rams that is keeping him out of Sunday's game against Peyton Manning and the defending AFC Champions. Rookie third-round pick Chris Borland will play in his place.

"In the big picture, I think we’re going to be alright," Willis said, terming his injury as a strained muscle. "We thought it would be worse."

It was initially feared Willis had suffered turf toe, which is a sprain - more significant than a strain - of ligaments around the joint of the big toe. Cornerback Tramaine Brock suffered a turf toe injury in the first quarter of Week 1 and hasn't played since, however he did return to practice this week and is questionable to play Sunday in Denver.

Three quarters of the 49ers' All-Pro linebacking corps will be missing against Manning, making the road team 6.5-point underdogs heading into Sunday night's nationally-televised game. NaVorro Bowman continues to rehab his knee injury and isn't likely to begin practicing until after the bye. And outside linebacker Aldon Smith has three games remaining on his nine-game suspension.

"I have complete confidence in our guys that are going to be out there on defense," Willis said. "I feel like coach Vic (Fangio) and the defensive coaches have put together a great plan. Those guys have been practicing all week an executing. So we just got to go out there on Sunday night and do what we always do: play good team defense."

The 49ers will also be without starting left guard Mike Iupati, who suffered a concussion in the second half of the win in St. Louis and will also use the bye week to aid his recovery.

Joe Looney, who spent most of training camp and preseason playing right guard in place of Alex Boone, will likely make his first career start in Iupati's place.

"(Looney has) been good. Feel like he’ll be good Sunday night,” Jim Harbaugh said.

Starting cornerback Chris Culliver missed practice Friday with a hamstring strain after being listed on the injury report during the week with a shoulder injury. He is questionable to play.

Rookie nickel corner Jimmie Ward exited Monday's game with a quad injury and will be a game-time decision Sunday night. Harbaugh was uncharacteristically candid when it came to discussing Ward's injury.

Here's how the lighthearted discussion went in Friday's presser:

Reporter: "What have you seen from LB Patrick Willis and DB Jimmie Ward?"

Harbaugh: “Patrick’s still in a boot. Doesn’t look … doubtful or out for this game.”

Reporter: "Jimmie?"

Harbaugh: "Not as sure with him. That’s more of a strain that heals as it heals. It’s a lot of information. I’m not used to giving that kind of information.”

Reporter: "How are you feeling right now?"

Harbaugh: “I feel used, manipulated.”

Reporter: "What's going on?"

Harbaugh: “I don’t know. Can we change the subject?”


49ers injury report


G Mike Iupati (concussion), LB Patrick Willis (toe)


CB Tramaine Brock (toe), CB Chris Culliver (shoulder, hamstring), T Anthony Davis (knee, ankle), S Jimmie Ward (quadricep)


CB Chris Cook (quadricep), CB Perrish Cox (quadricep), TE Vernon Davis (back), DE Tony Jerod-Eddie (shoulder), WR Stevie Johnson (hip), DE Justin Smith (not injury related), DT Ian Williams (ankle, shoulder)

Broncos injury report


RB Montee Ball (groin)


CB Omar Bolden (groin), S David Bruton (ankle), CB Chris Harris (knee), K Brandon McManus (right groin), LB Corey Nelson (hamstring), RB Juwan Thompson (knee)


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