49ers Blog and Q&A

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

December 22, 2011
Willis joins teammates for the start of practice


****Update**** Willis indeed practiced today. He was listed as "limited" on the 49ers' participation report. He's likely to be listed as questionable -- his designation the last two weeks -- on the injury report. Braylon Edwards (knee) and Bruce Miller (knee) also were limited; Ted Ginn (ankle) and Blake Costanzo (personal matter) did not practice.

For the first time since his hamstring injury Dec. 4, Patrick Willis joined his teammates for the start of practice. Willis had spent previous practices working out on a side field with strength coach Mark Uyeyama. On Thursday, he stretched with Uyeyama, then jogged off to a far field to join teammates at the start of their practice session.

That's when "practice" ended for reporters. We should learn a little more about Willis' progress when the team releases its participation report later today. Willis did not practice on Wednesday and still is a long shot to play against the Seahawks on Saturday.

Ted Ginn, meanwhile, missed his second practice this week with a sprained ankle, increasing the likelihood that the hero of the 49ers' Week 1 bout against the Seahawks won't be available for Round 2 on Saturday.

The 49ers on Sept. 11 roared out to 16-0 halftime lead against Seattle only to see it cut to 19-17 in the fourth quarter. Ginn, however, put the game out of reach with a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and then later a 55-yard punt return that also ened with Ginn in the end zone.

Kyle Williams said Thursday the plan is for him to handle both punt returns and kickoffs if Ginn can't play. Asked if that would curtail his snaps at receiver, Williams said it shouldn't. "Ted's been doing it all year," Williams said. "So there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to be able to fill in for these guys on special teams."

Brian Jennings has an apprentice. Rookie outside linebacker Monte Simmons has been learning the art of long-snapping from Jennings before practices this week. Simmons is interesting. The practice-squadder is physically impressive and has arms that are nearly as long as Aldon Smith's. He showed promise in training camp this year at a position in which the 49ers are thin. He's someone to watch during the offseason.

An interesting development in Seattle: That team's leading receiver, former Stanford wideout Doug Baldwin, missed Thursday's practice with an ankle injury. Baldwin was listed as limited on Wednesday.

-- 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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