Skip to main content

49ers Enjoy First Pro Bowl Practice


Linebacker Patrick Willis is one of only three rookies at the 2008 Pro Bowl, but it didn't take him long before he realized the vets were schooling him.

"I think Lofa Tatupu is trying to get one over on me," laughed Willis. "Everyone is so cool and it's pretty amazing to play with these guys, but Lofa definitely was trying to get me to take all of the reps in our first practice. I've got to step it up and get him back."

The days aren't far removed from Willis' very first NFL practice and the 49ers first rounder still remembers the way his head spun back then. In comparison, his first Pro Bowl practice was a breeze.

"Practice was unbelievable," said Willis. "I thought they'd go hard on us just to get everyone acclimated, but everybody is such a professional and they already know what they are doing so it was very laid back. We were really just out here talking and I loved it."

Punter Andy Lee also enjoyed his first ever Pro Bowl practice, working on his holds and taking only a few punts during the windy practice

"It was very laid back, and I hit a couple of balls here and there," said Lee. "It was a little windy, but I'm used to that from San Francisco, so it's all good. It's just been great so far and I'm really enjoying this."

Former 49ers offensive coordinators Norv Turner and Mike McCarthy are coaching the two squads, but McCarthy won the biggest brownie points on Tuesday with a practice that lasted only 45 minutes in comparison to the AFC practice which went slightly over the intended hour.

"I've heard good things about both coaches since I got here, but I actually never knew McCarthy had been with the 49ers since that was right before me," said Willis. "He's a cool and collected coach. He tells you how it's going to be and then he comes out and does what he said he would. I thought he was so laid back in the first meeting that he'd come out and be different, but I guess he really just is that laid back."

Known for his full throttle practice approach, Willis had to remind himself to take it easy and follow in the footsteps of his head coach for the week.

"You've got to slow down just a little bit out here," said Willis. "You don't want to be too slow but you don't want to go too hard either. I saw guys slowly back pedaling and so I realized I probably needed to slow down a little bit, and in fact, Andy was talking to me on the bus ride over and he told me to make sure I calmed down, reminding me of how I almost broke his thumb back in training camp."

Lee spent Tuesday afternoon with a few other players visiting a local military base, while Willis took off to see the sights of the island with his family.

"I'm actually already contemplating whether I'll come back here after the Pro Bowl to spend some more time," said Willis. "I love it."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.