Patrick Willis is making progress

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Prior to practice on Wednesday, San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith said he believed that inside linebacker Patrick Willis will “definitely” be back on the field Sunday against Houston.

Later in the day, Willis made nice strides by practicing on a limited basis.

Willis suffered a groin injury in a Week 3 loss to Indianapolis, and he missed the 49ers' game last Thursday at St. Louis. Willis said he is making progress and is hopeful he can play Sunday, as is coach Jim Harbaugh. I think if there are no setbacks Willis should be able to play.

Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha also was limited in practice. He missed last week’s game with a knee injury. Tramaine Brock played well in Asomugha’s place, and I’d expect Brock to stay the No. 3 cornerback against Houston and have the chance to keep the job if he continues to plays well.

Tight end Vernon Davis was limited, but he played last week after missing Week 3 with a hamstring injury. He is expected to be fine; the team doesn’t want to push him.

One injury to keep an eye on, though, is the shoulder problem that kept right tackle Anthony Davis out of practice Wednesday. It may be precautionary, but the 49ers will need Davis on Sunday when they face star pass-rusher J.J. Watt.