Patrick Willis: ‘Can’t Use Injuries For An Excuse’

Perhaps you heard that Colin Kaepernick’s goal-line fumble cost the San Francisco 49ers a win on Sunday. But what you might not have heard is that Kaepernick appeared to throw the game-winning touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree on the previous play.

The referee, however, ruled that the ball did not cross the plane. Kaepernick then fumbled, the 49ers lost to St. Louis, and they’re now third in a crowded NFC West.

It appears this really is a game of inches.

“I wasn’t sure (if Crabtree scored) at first, but then when they showed the replay, it looked like the ball had broke the plane,” 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “But I guess they thought (it didn’t).”

The immediate aftermath of the 13-10 loss, well, it wasn’t pretty.

“It never feels good after a loss because we work hard all week to go out there and play good football,” Willis said. “When you don’t get that W, nothing feels good until you get a win again. That was the feeling. No one felt good about that.”

Former Niner and current NFL analyst Steve Young said the 49ers looked broken during the game. Is he right?

“I’m not sure,” Willis said. “I’d have to go in there and watch the film. I just know that at the end of the day we didn’t win the football game. That’s on us. Players and coaches – we all have a hand in that. Whatever we looked like, we was like that together. We got to get it fixed.”

The 49ers (4-4) are now three games behind Arizona in the NFC West and one game behind Green Bay and Seattle in the Wild Card standings.

“We did not expect to be 4-4 at this point, and we shouldn’t be 4-4 at this point,” Willis said. “But unfortunately, we are 4-4 at this point, and we have to be men and understand that we have done this to ourselves. However we want to look at it, we’ve done it to ourselves. It’s up to us (to change what’s happening). I don’t think we’re a (mediocre team). I know that we’re not. It’s up to us as players and coaches to get this thing turned around, and right now I have faith that we can do that.”

To be fair, San Francisco’s defense has been ravaged by injuries and suspension. That unit has been without Willis, NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith, among others.

“You cannot replace a NaVorro Bowman, you cannot replace an Aldon Smith, and I don’t like (to include me), but at times you cannot replace a guy like myself,” Willis said. “But at the end of the day, we can’t use that for an excuse. We always talk about one man (going) down is another man’s time to go up there and shine. We have players on this football team to step into those roles and get it done. We just haven’t been doing that. And I’m not just talking about offense. I’m not pointing fingers at defense or special teams. Just as a group, we haven’t played the way we know we’re capable of playing. That’s on us. It’s on us to get this thing turned around.”

The 49ers play at New Orleans (4-4) this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

Willis (toe) is a game-time decision.

Patrick Willis

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