Willis battles bursitis in knee, withdraws from Pro Bowl

Linebacker Patrick Willis will not play in the Pro Bowl on Saturday due to a minor knee injury. Carolina linebacker Jon Beason will replace Willis on the NFC roster.


Willis had some swelling in his right knee due to a case of bursitis. If it had been a regular-season game, Willis would most likely play, a team official said. Fortunately, the 49ers have a member of their training staff in Miami.


Vernon Davis brought assistant athletic trainer Nate Breske to the game as a guest. So, while Breske has not official role with the NFC team, he is available to assist all 49ers players. (Davis also brought along teammate Delanie Walker, tight ends coach Pete Hoener and manager of public relations Michael Chasanoff.)


So while Willis will not play in the game, his NFL resume will still reflect his status as a Pro Bowl honoree – his third Pro Bowl in three seasons.


Davis, punter Andy Lee, running back Frank Gore and defensive lineman Justin Smith are the 49ers who are scheduled to participate in Sunday’s Pro Bowl.


It’s not such an elite club anymore. With the NFL’s decision to change the Pro Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl, it has led to an unprecedented number of players unavailable to participate in the game.


There are 88 players available for the game (44 on each team). There are 14 players on the Saints and Colts who will not play, obviously. And there have been at least 17 players unavailable to play due to injuries.


Let’s do a little math . . . During the regular season, teams are allowed to carry 53 players on their roster, but a maximum of 45 players can suit up for the game. That means the 32 teams have a combined 1440 players in uniform.


So with 119 players claiming some kind of Pro Bowl status, one of every 12.1 players on an active game day roster is a Pro Bowl player this season.


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