The Pittsburgh Steelers look certain not to have linebacker James Harrison Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers, because of his one game suspension handed down on Tuesday, but the 49ers are looking like they will once again be without the services of their best linebacker Patrick Willis as well.
Willis, who reportedly has a Grade 2 hamstring strain, did not play last week against the Arizona Cardinals, and he might not be ready to practice this week as the 49ers signed linebacker Michael Wilhoite to the practice squad today. That indicates they will need the extra linebacker body at practice.
Should Willis indeed end up sitting out Monday night, the 49ers will start linebacker Larry Grant once again in his place. Grant played well against the run in place of Willis against the Cardinals and lead the 49ers defense in tackles with 9. He also was credited with 1 pass defensed in the game. Where the 49ers missed Willis the most was in pass coverage, as Grant often times did not drop deep enough to help in the middle of the field on crossing routes, a part of the skill set that Willis excels out.
Neither the Steelers, nor the 49ers were required to release an injury report on Wednesday, due to the game taking place on Monday night, so we will have to wait and see if Willis gives it go on Thursday and what level of participation he has in practice if any.