It has been a disappointing off-season and free agency period for the San Francisco 49ers to say the least.
The 49ers let go head coach Jim Harbaugh who had taken them to multiple NFC Championships, promising linebacker Chris Borland retired after just one season in the NFL, and so did veteran stars Justin Smith and Patrick Willis.
And it is Willis who yesterday delivered one final parting blow to 49ers fans. The former All-Pro linebacker revealed that there is zero chance that he ever returns to play for San Francisco.
Asked by Takeo Spikes of NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk to rate his chance of returning to the National Football League and the 49ers on a scale of one to 10, Willis went off the board and said, “Zero.”
“The time for me has come,” Willis said. “The time has come. It’s time for change, and honestly it’s something that when I had that surgery, I’ve been talking about my feet for a long time, and people choose to hear what they hear.
On his own Terms
Willis speaks so passionately in his interview and with such fervour that it can be a struggle at times to make out coherent sentences. But the basis of his point is that he has started to see a decline in his own game and his athleticism when comparing himself to other players in the league.
Willis then goes on to add that he doesn't want to be one of those players that keeps playing until they are "used up" and thrown aside by teams when they aren't worth anything to them any more, adding that he sees 50-year old players now with messed up hands and feet - not to mention brain problems - and does not want to be like that at all, saying that he loves fishing too much and wants to be able to play with his children and nieces and nephews when he's older.
“I’ve always enjoyed (football) and it’s always been a special place for me, like a sanctuary or something in a sense where it’s almost like an escape. But what I couldn’t escape was that I was feeling in my feet. Like something was telling me there was only a matter of time.”
Patrick Willis is gone from the NFL for good, in a playing sense at least, and it leaves the 49ers in complete disarray. With new head coach Jim Tomsula in his first ever head coaching job this could be a very rocky year for Niners fans, who may have to lower their expectations drastically from the old days of Harbaugh.