SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis will miss the remainder of the season and require surgery for a strained muscle in his left big toe.
Willis was placed on the season-ending injured reserve list Tuesday for the injury suffered in the third quarter at St. Louis on Oct. 13.
“It’s very frustrating,” Willis said. “My teammates mean everything to me and I want to be out there experiencing all the good times and all the rough times with them.”
Willis, a Pro Bowler all seven seasons in the NFL, had missed six games in his career before this latest injury sidelined him for the final 10 games in 2014 for San Francisco (5-4). He had 34 tackles and an interception this season for the Niners.
Willis is a captain and leader of a 49ers team that has reached the NFC championship game in each of the past three seasons.
“We haven’t lost him in the locker room,” linebacker Michael Wilhoite said. “We’re still all together here. It hurts but at same time we need to keep going out and win games.”
Willis had hoped the injury wasn’t so serious to sideline him long term. He missed practice last week after returning in a limited role the previous week.
Willis indicated his toe has been bothering him for several years and that he continued to play as long as he could stand the pain.
This is a big loss to one of the NFL’s leading defenses, though the 49ers are expected to have Aldon Smith back Sunday on the road against the New York Giants.
Smith is set to begin practicing this week after serving his nine-game suspension by the NFL for violations of the league’s substance-abuse and personal-conduct policies.
In addition, 2013 All-Pro NaVorro Bowman could be cleared to begin practice this week, opening a 21-day window for the team to activate him or place him on IR.
Bowman is recovering from surgery on his left knee after he tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in a devastating injury in the NFC championship game loss at Seattle last January.
Rookie Chris Borland has filled in for Willis, recording 18 tackles in a loss to the Rams two weeks ago then 17 more tackles in an overtime win at New Orleans on Sunday.
The Niners signed running back Alfonso Smith to replace Willis on the roster.
nose tackle Cofield
ASHBURN — The Washington Redskins activated nose tackle Barry Cofield from short-term injured reserve on Tuesday.
Cofield suffered a high right ankle sprain in the Week 1 loss to the Houston Texans and was also dealing with a nagging groin injury.
He resumed practicing three weeks ago.
To make room for Cofield, the Redskins waived linebacker Jackson Jeffcoat.
Seahawks put Mebane on injured reserve
RENTON, Wash. — Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane will miss the rest of the season for the Seattle Seahawks after being placed on injured reserve following a hamstring injury in a win over the New York Giants.
Fox Sports reported that Mebane suffered a torn hamstring. Mebane was hurt during the first half of Seattle’s 38-17 win.
Mebane’s loss is a blow to Seattle’s run defense, which ranks fourth in the league at 79.8 yards per game.
Season is finished
for Jaguars’ Robinson
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville’s most productive rookie is done for the season.
The Jaguars placed receiver Allen Robinson on injured reserve with a broken right foot. He initially hurt his foot against Miami on Oct. 26, and the pain kept getting worse. Tests Monday revealed a stress fracture.
Robinson hasn’t decided whether to have surgery.
Robinson, a second-round draft pick from Penn State, has been one of Jacksonville’s bright spots on offense this season. He had 48 receptions for 548 yards and two touchdowns, outperforming veteran Cecil Shorts III and fellow rookies Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns.
Meanwhile, Jacksonville waived linebacker Dekoda Watson and activated rookie cornerback Aaron Colvin off the reserve/non-football injury list.
Colvin, a standout at Oklahoma, was a fourth-round draft pick.
He tore a knee ligament during a Senior Bowl practice and has been recovering since. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said Colvin will play next week at Indianapolis.
Browns: Starting safety Tashaun Gipson, the NFL’s interceptions leader with six, is being evaluated for a concussion. Coach Mike Pettine said Gipson returned from Cleveland’s break after a 24-3 win on Thursday night in Cincinnati complaining of headaches.
Cardinals: Arizona re-signed quarterback Ryan Lindley. Lindley, released by the team at the end of the preseason, takes the roster spot of Carson Palmer, who was placed on injured reserve after tearing an ACL in Sunday’s win over St. Louis.
Lindley was signed by Arizona from the San Diego Chargers’ practice squad.
Bears: Chicago waived former Super Bowl MVP receiver Santonio Holmes. Holmes signed a one-year deal with Chicago in August after being released by the New York Jets in March.
He had eight receptions for 67 yards along with nine punt returns for 50 yards.
Cowboys: Dallas activated defensive tackle Josh Brent, another step toward his return to the field almost two years after a drunken-driving crash that led to his conviction for intoxication manslaughter.
Coach Jason Garrett hasn’t indicated when Brent will be ready to play. He said Brent, who has been practicing for two weeks, is overweight.