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49ers expect Willis back by Week 1

The SportsXchange

For the third time in eight years, All-Pro inside linebacker Patrick Willis is dealing with a broken bone in his right hand.

Willis was injured Wednesday and CSNBayArea.com reported he might have a "slight fracture" in his right hand. He was scheduled for further tests Thursday.

"I expect him to be back and it won't be something that keeps him out very long," 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said Thursday.

In 2005 at Mississippi and with the 49ers in 2007, Willis played with his hand in a cast. In 2010, he had pins inserted into a broken bone in his right hand but the team allowed at the time only that he was "banged up." The injury at Ole Miss and 2010 was a broken finger.

He's been named to the Pro Bowl in each of his six NFL seasons.

Hairline fractures can heal as quickly as two weeks and most heal within 3-4 weeks.

Willis and inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman left Wednesday's practice with injuries. Bowman injured his groin and didn't practice Tuesday. He was able to practice until the end portion of the session Wednesday.

--Harbaugh said cornerback Chris Culliver was getting an MRI at Stanford after injuring his knee in practice.
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