Maiocco: Not a good day for 49ers All-Pro inside linebackers
Patrick Willis is unlikely to play this preseason, but should be near full strength for the Sept. 8 opener against Green Bay. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Linebacker Patrick Willis reportedly sustained a "slight fracture" of his right hand, the third time he has broken his right hand in his NFL career.
Willis on Thursday morning underwent X-rays, which revealed the fracture, ESPN reported.
Willis, 28, sustained a broken right hand in 2007 and still managed to play all 16 games -- many of which he played with a cast on his hand. In 2010, Willis underwent two surgeries on a broken right hand. He sat out the final game of the season after the 49ers were eliminated from playoff contention.
With 5 1/2 weeks until the start of the regular season, Willis is unlikely to play during the exhibition season but should be near full strength for the Sept. 8 opener against the Green Bay Packers. Willis has earned trips to the Pro Bowl in each of his first six seasons in the NFL. He will likely be replaced by Michael Wilhoite until his return to the lineup.