Three and Out: Will officials protect read-option QBs?
SANTA CLARA -- Patrick Willis wore gloves at the start of practice Wednesday with no obvious extra padding on his healing right hand.
He took his turn in a warmup line and caught passes fired at him from 49ers defensive assistant Peter Hansen.
In short, Willis looked just fine four days before the 49ers open the regular season against the Green Bay Packers. And Willis, a six-time Pro Bowl performer in six NFL seasons, expects to be his old self on Sunday at Candlestick Park. He went through a full practice on Wednesday, and the 49ers did not list him on the injury report submitted to the league office.
"I feel like if I'm going to be on the field, I can't let it affect my play," Willis said. "I don't want to cheat my teammates of anything. If I'm going to be out there, I have to make sure I'm ready to go and no excuses. Whatever needs to be done, I have to get it done."
Willis sustained a broken bone on his right hand hand on July 31, just one week into training camp. He did not play in the team's four preseason games.
"They say it takes eight weeks for a bone to completely heal," Willis said. "This Friday, it'll be five weeks since the surgery. But the doctor said it looks good. That's a good thing."
It is the fourth time throughout Willis' college and professional days that he is dealing with a broken bone on his right hand. He sustained his latest break during a pass-rush drill against fullback Bruce Miller.
"Not the same spot," Willis said. "I'm right-handed, so I tend to be a little bit more forceful with the right hand. It's one of the things when it happened, I rushed a million times and got it stepped on and hit, everything. Something as small as what I did is what broke it."
Willis returned to practice last week, and he appears a full-go on the field this week, as the 49ers prepare for Aaron Rodgers and what figures to be an improved Packers running game.
The Packers selected rookies Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin within the first four rounds of the draft. In the exhibition season, Lacy averaged just 2.0 yards per rushing attempt, while Franklin was not much better at 2.2.
As much as the Packers expect to have an improved run game, Willis knows he'll be spending a lot of time Sunday in pass coverage, too.
"We want to take away everything," Willis said. "We know they added some running backs. They got a $100 million quarterback, so we knew they're going to want him to throw the ball. They got some good receivers and a good tight end, so we know they're not going to get too far away from what they do, and that's pass."