49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

December 14, 2010
Linebackers club: Willis, Spikes wearing casts in practice

Takeo Spikes and Patrick Willis looked like twins during the 49ers' morning walk through. Both inside linebackers had bulky casts that covered their right hands and ran up their forearms. Asked about their matching injuries in separate interviews, their responses seemed synchronized, too.

Said Spikes: "It's banged up - banged up pretty good."
Said Willis: "It got banged up pretty good."

When did the injury occur?

Said Spikes: "A helmet hit it early in the game. A helmet hit it."
Said Willis: "It happened early on in the game ... in the first few plays of the game."

If your BS Detector isn't flickering yet, both players also said that they didn't know their diagnosis and weren't sure whether they could play Thursday against the Chargers. They said they would yield to team doctors and trainers.

Might not play Thursday? (Roll eyebrows). Patrick Willis scholars will recall that Willis played with a cast on his right hand during his junior season at Ole Miss (that protected a broken finger) and that he also broke a bone in his right hand in Week 9 during his rookie season with the 49ers. Not only did that injury fail to slow Willis down, he seemed to gain strength when the club was placed on his hand, and he led the league in tackles that year. (Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco - he was still Chad Johnson back then - dubbed Willis "Bam Bam" for the reckless abandon with which he played while wearing the club.)

Then there's Spikes, who hasn't made the playoffs in 12 seasons in the league but has a reasonable chance of going this season if the 49ers can string together wins at the end of the season. Spikes has been perhaps the team's most valuable defender in recent weeks and has led all tacklers in the last two games. My take is that you'd have to remove both his arms in order to get him to sit out this game.

Spikes was wearing the bigger cast of the two and he noted that, if he played, it might be harder for him to grab his fourth interception on the season. "Might break the interception streak," he said. "That's one of the things that you worry about. That means I have to focus on snagging it with one hand, the left hand."

Just for giggles, if neither Spikes nor Willis played against the Chargers, the starting inside linebackers would be rookies NaVorro Bowman and Keaton Kristick.

Rookie guard Mike Iupati said he's suffered shoulder stingers before. But the one that felled him in the third quarter Sunday was "the worst ever." Iupati said the injury occurred during a point-after attempt - "I still don't know how it happened," he said. "You can't see from the film." - and that he lost all sensation in his arm.

Iupati said his arm was still numb two days later but that sensation was returning. Will he play against the Chargers? "Yes. I think so," he said.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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