SANTA CLARA, Calif. – After 62 NFL games and 62 starts, inside linebacker Patrick Willis will finally miss his first game Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers play the Arizona Cardinals to close the season.
Interim coach Jim Tomsula said that Willis had a second surgical procedure on his broken right hand this week and has been ruled out for Sunday’s game.
Tomsula said had the game been crucial to the 49ers’ playoff chances, Willis still would not have been able to play.
“No, that was irrelevant,” Tomsula said. “I was told it was irrelevant. That had nothing to do with it.”
Willis, who was named to play in his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl, declined to comment. He played the past two games with a club-like bandage covering his right hand, but it’s possible a pin he had inserted in the hand needed to be replaced.
Tomsula said rookie NaVorro Bowman will start in place of Willis.
NO NATE: Don’t expect to see quarterback Nate Davis play Sunday. Tomsula named Alex Smith the starter, and there are no plans to promote Davis from the practice squad.
Davis said he plans to spend much of the offseason in Indianapolis working with a trainer to stay in shape and reduce his body fat. He said the trainer also works with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
Davis also said he hopes to remain with the 49ers, although any player on a practice squad becomes a free agent when the season ends. He said he hasn’t spoken to anyone from the team about whether he’s in the team’s plans.
“I plan on coming back here,” he said. “I just hope that I’m back. I want to get better every day and keep on working to be a starter.”
AWARD WINNERS: The 49ers named their annual team award recipients. They include:
LB Takeo Spikes, Len Eshmont Award, voted on by players for inspirational and courageous play; RB Frank Gore, Bill Walsh Award, voted on by coaches for the team’s MVP; C David Baas, Bobb McKittrick Award, voted on by the offensive line for courage, intensity and sacrifice; DT Justin Smith, Hazeltine Iron Man Award, voted on by defensive coaches for courage and inspirational play by a defensive player; and RB Anthony Dixon and DT Will Tukuafu, Thomas Herrion Award, voted on by coaches and given to a rookie or first-year player who takes advantage of his opportunity.
NOTES: The 49ers signed rookie linebacker Alex Joseph off the Carolina Panthers practice squad. Joseph played at Temple University. … Listed out for Sunday’s game are LB Keaton Kristick (concussion), CB Phillip Adams (ankle), T Joe Staley (fibula) and Willis. C David Baas (ribs) and TE Nate Byham (heel) are day to day.