SANTA CLARA -- All the rice in Santa Clara could not get linebacker Patrick Willis into satisfactory form for the 49ers’ season opener.
But one week later, Willis expects to experience a noticeable increase in strength against the Seattle Seahawks for the second game of the season.
Willis sustained a broken right hand during a practice on July 31. He did not play during the exhibition season, and he admits he was not satisfied with his play in the 49ers’ opening 34-28 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
[RECAP: 49ers 34, Packers 28]
“It was off a little bit,” Willis said. “It wasn’t as strong that I would’ve liked it to been. But I was blessed to be out there. This week is going to be much better than it was last week. “
Willis missed one tackle last week in the 49ers’ opener. He had just five missed tackles in more than 1,000 snaps at middle linebacker all of last season.
As part of his rehabilitation, Willis maneuvers his hand into a Gatorade bucket filled with rice at the team's training facility. He is making up for the four weeks of inactivity when his hand was enclosed in a cast.
This was the fourth time Willis has sustained a broken bone in his right hand in the past eight seasons. Because the break has healed he does not have to wear a club to play -– as has been the case at other points in his career.
“Any time you can have your fingers, that’s a good thing,” Willis said.
Willis’ hand will receive a serious test Sunday against Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his past three games against the 49ers.