SANTA CLARA -- Linebacker Patrick Willis apologized at his locker Tuesday for earlier comments he made on the radio in response to broadcaster Matt Millen's criticism.

"Yesterday kind of got to me," Willis said. "A lot of times I don't have a lot to say on what other people say. It was my emotion coming out the day after a game.

"I said things I shouldn't have said. I apologize for those things. I have all the respect in the world for the guys who played this game and played at a high level."

Millen, who won one of his four Super Bowl rings while starting at inside linebacker for the 1989 49ers, has been a big fan of the Willis-NaVorro Bowman tandem.

On Monday, Millen told 95.7-FM The Game that the 49ers' dynamic duo played their worst game together, as the Giants ran for 149 yards in a 26-3 rout Sunday.

Willis, in a separate radio interview, responded: "Whoever this Matt Millen guy is, I'd like to ask him if he could do what we do every day and do what we do for 16 games a year and see if he can hold up every game. I doubt he would. I doubt he would be able to consistently play at a high level as Bowman and I do."

After watching film Monday, Willis said "it wasn't as bad as we thought," though he did not excuse their effort on the Giants' penultimate drive that featured 67 rushing yards on 12 plays before a final field goal from Lawrence Tynes.


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"That last drive, they got big runs, and that's uncharacteristic of our defense," Willis said. Asked if Willis and Bowman had a subpar game, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio answered: "It was subpar for all of us, in the fourth quarter in particular. We didn't play the run well."

The 49ers will next host the Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch, a running back who was the toughest they faced last season, in Fangio's opinion and in the stat column (Lynch was the only opposing rusher to crack the 100-yard mark vs the 49ers last season).

"He's very elusive, hard to tackle, and we'll need to swarm to the ball," Willis said.

One iconic linebacker who won't be pursuing any more ball carriers this season -- and perhaps the rest of his career -- is the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Lewis, a player Willis emulates.

"I heard the news yesterday he's out for the season. Wow," Willis said. "For me, he's one of the forefathers of the game during my time and beforehand. It's unfortunate because he has a passion for the game. I wish him all the best and hope he has a speedy recovery."

Lewis suffered a torn right triceps in the Ravens' win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

  • Left tackle Joe Staley downplayed Sunday's concussion and said he's awaiting medical clearance to return to action, telling reporters that if it were up to him he would have been OK to play Monday.

  • Offensive coordinator Greg Roman, in response to whether Colin Kaepernick is being groomed to replace Alex Smith, said: "It remains to be seen. We like Alex as our quarterback. He's won a lot of games for us. He's a winner, and I wouldn't have it any other way. ... Colin is our backup quarterback right now, and he's in an understudy role."

  • Kicker David Akers (illness) did not practice. Linebacker Tavares Gooden (elbow) was added to the injury report but practiced.