SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 04: Patrick Willis #52 of the San Francisco 49ers lines up against the St. Louis Rams at Candlestick Park on December 4, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
On Sunday, the 49ers will have a chance to lock up the #2 playoff seed with a win against the Rams in St. Louis. Whether or not Patrick Willis will participate in said game is undetermined but he did resume practicing after suffering a hamstring injury. I don't believe the 49ers will need the perennial Pro Bowler in order to win this weekend, but it couldn't hurt if he suited up in case of emergency. San Francisco will need him in the playoffs against the leagues best teams so it would be advisable to sit him until then.
This has been a big year for the All-Pro linebacker who just made his 5th straight Pro Bowl in his NFL seasons. Besides his personal success, his team has been performed at an optimum level of which Willis had never experienced as a pro. The 49ers have been seriously winning games this season, led by great defense and an efficient west coast offense. After watching this season, one can't help but think about the future and I think the central figure in that is Willis.
Since he broke onto the season after being selected in the 2007 NFL Draft, he has been the model player team's look to build their franchises around. In a recent article by Taylor Price on 49ers.com, Willis opened up, revealing his character and mentality.
I take a lot of pride in being consistent. I've always felt as a player, consistency is what we're measured by. Anybody can have a good game. Anybody can have a good year. It's about being a pro. It's about consistently trying to raise your game to another level that hasn't been seen by others. That's the way I've always tried to approach the game ever since I was a kid. I try to be the very best I can be now and not be the same player I was the season before. My whole goal is to get better every day and just keep it fun and continue to be positive no matter what. A lot of it has to do with that. I've been through too much in my life in 26 years to not want it, to not go get it. God has been good. My teammates have been unbelievable. My coaches in the past and my coaches now, I have all them to thank for what I have achieved thus far. I just hope I stay positive, stay focused, stay humble and stay hungry.
The 49ers inside linebacker has a Hall of Fame presence, yet he remains humble and determined. There is not a doubt on my mind that he has set the standard for the 49ers organization, as the players seem to follow his lead -- practice hard, play hard. The Niners of 2011 play physical, clean, cerebral, technical, sound football; that is what Mike Tomlin meant when he referenced "49er football" in his post-game press conference following the Monday Night loss to SF.
The 49ers are 12-3, looking for their 13th win of the season against a division opponent in a miraculous season that has shocked and awed NFL-heads everywhere. A large part in thanks to contributions from Willis, but hopefully, the real "oooh's" and "aaahs" are yet to come in the post season. A rested and eager Willis should provide an electricity on the field and boost for an already stout defense. Willis is an impressive player to say the least, and at this rate, he is in line to be a unanimous first ballot Hall of Famer.
If you know the background of Patrick Willis and where he came from, and what he's accomplished with all odds against him, you have to believe that there is very little that will get in this man's way of achieving his goals. And his goal right now is to win a Super Bowl; restoring greatness to the San Francisco 49ers. It takes heart to grind it out and win tough games in the post-season, and I think Willis has that in spades. As the leader of this team, I think he is capable of leading San Francisco to it's 6th championship in franchise history.
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