ATLANTA -- Linebacker Patrick Willis, who played his senior season at Mississippi with a cast on his right hand, might have to get fitted for a new one this week.
Willis broke a bone in his hand on the 49ers' second defensive series but never left the game. In fact, Willis again led his team in tackles, recording 10 total and also sacking Atlanta quarterback Joey Harrington in the second quarter.
Willis wore a black plastic brace on his hand after the game and admitted the injury hurt a bit. He took an X-ray after the game but said he didn't want to know the result. A team spokesman later confirmed there was a small fracture in the hand.
A similar injury -- Willis said he broke a finger -- didn't seem to hinder him at Ole Miss last season, and this one isn't likely to cause him to miss any playing time, either.
COLD SHOULDER -- While Willis was playing with a broken hand, Justin Smiley was in the visiting locker room grimacing in pain while four trainers tried to pop his right shoulder back in place.
Smiley separated his right shoulder in the first quarter when he recovered Michael Robinson's fumble.
"When I recovered the fumble, the ball was under my right arm," Smiley said. "A guy came flying in and dislocated my right shoulder."
Smiley suffered a similar injury to his left shoulder last year, playing 14 games with a tear in the shoulder. Smiley said he fears this injury is worse because it was far more difficult to get the shoulder back in place.