The San Francisco 49ers are back at practice, and Patrick Willis is getting in what is likely going to be classified as a "limited" practice session. The 49ers will release their official designations in a couple hours, but in the meantime, Willis is at least on the field. According to the media, yesterday was his first practice session in pads since he suffered the groin injury.
Vic Fangio was asked what the chances were that Willis would be able to play on Sunday.
"I think the chances are better than they were last week. And last week we thought he might be back, but he wasn't ready. And we'll see. He practiced yesterday. We'll see how he does today."
That's some deep analysis! But seriously, all signs are that Willis is improving. Willis himself said that after yesterday's practice he felt "amazing" and he hoped to be ready to go for Sunday's game:
"Last week, I really tried to push it to go and it just wasn't all the way there," Willis said. "What I didn't want to do was lie to myself and teammates and not give all of myself. Me and the training staff felt it was the right approach.
"Yesterday it was better. I'm still feeling it a little bit but it's certainly a lot better than it was."
It is good to hear there is improvement, but it is safe to say we are going to have wait until 90 minutes before the game on Sunday to figure out whether Willis will play. The 49ers will release inactives at that point.
Will the 49ers give Willis one more week since they're facing a weaker opponent? I initially was thinking that could be the case, but given that they sat him last week against the Texans, I don't think the opponent will influence their decision. And given that it is a groin muscle, sitting him as long as necessary is reasonable and prudent.
Thankfully Michael Wilhoite has proven incredibly solid in place of Willis. The 49ers will want to get the best lineup possible on the field, but they are in a position where they can wait for Willis to truly get back to 100 percent.