Patrick Willis Retires

Chris Berg, Staff Writer

After eight seasons, seven pro bowl selections, and five first team All-Pro honors, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis has shockingly retired. In a tearful press conference on Tuesday, Willis cited multiple reasons for his retirement, one being the health of his feet and toes. “I know I no longer have it in these feet to go out there and give you guys that ‘wow.’ It’s my health first,” he said. Willis missed 10 games last season with a toe injury.
He seems at peace leaving the sport in relatively good health, at age 30, rather than play a few more years with the risk of looking like so many ex-players he’s seen struggle with everyday activities. “I have no regrets. I’ve had the most amazing eight years of football of my life. I am so humbled to have had this opportunity. I’ve been so humbled to have played this game,” Willis said Tuesday.
Willis finishes his career with 950 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and eight interceptions. In addition, he helped the 49ers reach three consecutive NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl. He was one of the most productive and feared defenders of his generation. Former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh tweeted about his former player: “The Pro Football Hall of Fame awaits Patrick Willis! A five tool Linebacker! Consummate Football Player!”
Willis would probably have several more productive seasons ahead of him if he chose to come out of retirement, but he claims that he is “leaving this with closure,” and there is no possibility of that.
Without Willis, the 49ers need middle linebacker Chris Borland to come up in a big way in 2015. Given that star linebacker NaVorro Bowman missed the entire 2014 season with a knee injury, the middle linebacker position has gone from a strength to a question mark for next season.
It is the end of an era in San Francisco. With Willis and running back Frank Gore now departed, the 49ers have lost their two most defining players to their recent success. Even though Niners may be disappointed to see him go, they have nothing to do but thank him for eight amazing years.