The San Francisco 49ers will be without linebacker Patrick Willis for the final seven games of the regular season after placing the seven-time Pro Bowler on injured reserve Tuesday.

This is a horrible blow to a team that needs to win as many games as possible to even have a shot for the playoffs after starting the season out with a 4-4 record.

Willis has missed each of the last three games with a toe injury. It appeared that he close to returning two weeks ago against the St. Louis Rams. At that point, the future Hall of Famer was considered a game-time decision after practicing during the week.

It remains to be seen if there were any major setbacks or if the injury really was more serious than first imagined.

Without the services of Aldon Smith (suspension) and Navorro Bowman (injury), the 49ers kept their head above water in the first half of the season. Now that Smith is slated to return next week and Bowman shortly after that, the team loses Willis for the season.

Rookie Chris Borland, who has filled in nicely over the past two weeks with 35 combined tackles, will remain a starter with Willis sidelined.

Photo: 49ers.com