The San Francisco 49ers announced Tuesday that LB Joe Staley, a six-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowl selection, plans to retire from the National Football League.
"On behalf of the entire San Francisco 49ers organization, my family, and our Faithful fans, I would like to thank Patrick for everything he has brought to this team and our community," said 49ers CEO Jed York. "Some of the greatest memories in the history of our franchise have come from his passion, dedication and sacrifice.
"Patrick epitomizes everything you could ever want in a San Francisco 49er. What he brought to this team goes much further than his athletic abilities. His leadership and infectious love for the game helped propel this team. I consider myself very lucky to have grown up around some of the greatest players in the history of this franchise, and Patrick has certainly secured his place among that elite group of men. As a member of our family, Patrick holds a special place in our hearts, and we look forward to supporting him as he moves on from his playing career."
Originally drafted by San Francisco in the first round (the 11th overall selection) of the 2007 NFL Draft, Willis spent all eight seasons of his NFL playing career with the 49ers. Since being named NFL
Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2007, he has been one of the league's most dominant linebackers. Willis became the first player in 49ers history to be selected as an All-Pro in each of his first six seasons (First Team - 2007, 2009-12; Second Team - 2008).
Willis was the first 49er since safety Ronnie Lott to be selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons. He also became the first player in franchise history to be selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven seasons. Willis joined linebacker Lawrence Taylor and linebacker Derrick Thomas as the only defensive players, since the merger in 1970, to be selected to the Pro Bowl in each of their first seven seasons.
A two-time recipient of the Bill Walsh Award, which is voted on by the coaches and awarded to the team's Most Valuable Player, Willis has earned the respect of the men he has played alongside and against. Along with defensive tackle Justin Smith and running back Frank Gore, the three are the only two-time winners of the award in team history.
Willis started all 112 games in which he appeared and registered 1,225 tackles, 20.5 sacks, eight interceptions (returning two for touchdowns), 16 forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and 53 passes defensed. Since 2007, he is the only player in the NFL with at least 20.0 sacks (20.5), 15 forced fumbles (16) and eight interceptions (eight). Willis also started all eight playoff games and registered 84 tackles, 2.0 sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery and two passes defensed.
A 30-year-old native of Bruceton, TN, Willis played collegiately at Mississippi where he won the 2006 Butkus Award and Jack Lambert Award as the nation's top linebacker. A two-time All-America selection (2005-06), Willis was also named the 2006 SEC Defensive Player of the Year.