ESPN is reporting that 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis underwent surgery on his fractured hand, getting a pin inserted. He had previously had a cast on, and this clarifies things a little bit more. ESPN said that Willis is expected back in time for Week 1 versus the Packers. Jim Harbaugh had previously stated the latter as well. Yesterday, Coach Harbaugh stated that Willis would not play Thursday against the Denver Broncos.
It's a shame Willis suffered the injury, but there are a couple positives to take from it. First, it means Michael Wilhoite and the other backup linebackers will get more preseason snaps higher up the depth chart. The 49ers will start Willis and NaVorro Bowman all season long, but it will be nice to see what the backups can do, particularly with Larry Grant appearing to be entirely out of the picture.
The second thing is the notion that maybe Willis will have a little extra pep in his step by not logging too many preseason miles. I don't know if I buy into that entirely, but people have been throwing it around. Do you think it matters?