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49ers' Willis undergoes MRI on injured hamstring

  • Patrick Willis was injured on this play while trying to tackle Britt Miller. The San Francisco 49ers beat the St. Louis Rams 26-0 on Sunday, December 4, 2011.

SANTA CLARA — Four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis underwent an MRI exam Monday on his injured right hamstring and his status for Sunday's game at Arizona was unclear.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said he didn't know the severity of Willis' injury or whether it could sideline him for NFC West champion San Francisco (10-2), which clinched its first division title and playoff berth since 2002 with a 26-0 win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

"Nothing to share," Harbaugh said. "I'm not in Patrick's body. It's hard to say with any injury, including a hamstring. ... I guess I was more relieved that it wasn't a knee. That area that they were working on — I was concerned about that, for Patrick and for our team."

San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams

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Willis landed awkwardly after missing a tackle on fullback Brit Miller during an 18-yard completion from A.J. Feeley with 4:28 left in the first quarter. Willis was briefly down before being helped off the field by trainers. He watched the rest of the game in a sweat suit.

Willis, the heart of the team's top-ranked run defense, has 93 tackles, two sacks, a career-best four forced fumbles and an interception. In May 2010, he received a $50 million, five-year contract extension that takes him through the 2016 season and includes $29 million in guaranteed money. He earns $10 million per season.

"I know Pat is a hard player and I was like, &‘It has to be something serious for him not to just get back up and get back in the game,"' defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois said.

The hard-hitting Larry Grant played well in Willis' place.

"He's got a high level of contact courage," Harbaugh said of Grant.

The 49ers can afford to rest Willis to ensure he is full strength for the playoffs next month, but Harbaugh insists the fact they already won the West would have no bearing on playing time for guys like Willis or running back Frank Gore.

"The trainers and Patrick will give feedback there and make a decision," Harbaugh said.


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