SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Injuries are suddenly piling up fast for the San Francisco 49ers in training camp.
All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis was wearing a black cast around the base of his right hand and wrist and was among more than a dozen players not participating in practice Thursday. Barely 45 minutes into the workout, trainers carted cornerback Chris Culliver off the field with an apparent left knee injury.
Willis, a former Ole Miss star, injured his hand during one-on-one blocking drills Wednesday. He stood on the sidelines the rest of practice with his wrist and hand heavily wrapped along with fellow All-Pro middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who has been nursing a hip injury.
Culliver’s injury appeared even more serious. He was covering a punt in a non-contact drill when he went down in pain, holding his left knee and burying his head in his hands.
Coach Jim Harbaugh and players looked on as trainers attended to Culliver. General manager Trent Baalke consoled Culliver by putting his arm around the cornerback before he was carted off the field.
The injury is the latest in a series of setbacks for the 49ers this offseason.
Top wide receiver Michael Crabtree is rehabbing his surgically repaired right Achilles tendon and is expected to miss at least half the season — and likely more. Mario Manningham is coming off an ACL tear in his knee and is expected to be back “at some point” this season, Harbaugh has said.
Fellow wideouts Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins and Kassim Osgood each came off the field Tuesday with apparent leg issues, and have sat out the past two days. And Quinton Patton can’t catch passes due to a soft cast to protect an injured middle finger on his left hand. He has been running routes in a blue jersey.
Outside linebacker Aldon Smith and center Jonathan Goodwin also sat out practice due to unspecified injuries but did light stretching and agility exercises on an adjacent field. In addition, running backs Kendall Hunter (Achilles) and Marcus Lattimore (knee), defensive linemen Tank Carradine (knee) and Quinton Dial (toe), and tackle Luke Marquardt (foot) are on the active physically unable to perform or non-football injury lists.
Now Willis and Culliver are sidelined, too.
Willis has made the Pro Bowl in each of his first six seasons and has been an Associated Press first-team All-Pro five times. He had 88 tackles, two forced fumbles and two interceptions to anchor San Francisco’s stout defense last season.
Culliver had 47 tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery last season while playing primarily as the team’s third cornerback. He was drafted in the third round out of South Carolina in 2011.
Harbaugh was scheduled to address reporters Thursday afternoon.