The magnitude of the NFL Playoffs is not lost on linebacker Joe Staley.
After missing out on January football in each of his first four seasons, Willis came to realize that opportunities in the postseason are few and far between.
"Someday, when I leave this game, I don't want to look back and say, 'I wish I would have given a little more. I wish I would have played harder this game,'" Willis told 49ers.com. "I just want to go out there and give it everything I got when the clock hits zero.
"You don't want to look back and have any regrets."
Now in the midst of his third consecutive postseason run, Willis said he understood the opportunity at hand and felt the 49ers have a team with Super Bowl-potential.
"We have a special team," Willis said. "I don't want us to look back in years to come, whether we're still playing or we're old and have a little bit of gray, and say, 'We had the team. We should have done it. We should have won a Super Bowl.' I want to look back and say, 'Remember that year that we won that Super Bowl.'"
San Francisco will have a difficult path in order to reach Super Bowl XLVIII in New York, traveling across the country to face the second-seeded Carolina Panthers in the NFC Divisional round before potentially facing the Seahawks in Seattle or the New Orleans Saints at Candlestick Park in the conference's title game.
With a one-game-at-a-time approach, Willis doesn't shy away from the ultimate goal.
"The ultimate goal during the offseason, when you're working out and you're out there running and you don't want to get up in the morning, you're thinking about the Super Bowl," Willis said. "That's what you put it on the line for, to get that. Anything less than that, you shouldn't feel good."
Playing for the Lombardi Trophy last season only fueled Willis' desire to get back to the Super Bowl once again.
"We were there last year and we were close, but close doesn't get it done," Willis said. "We have an opportunity again this year. We won our first playoff game and here we are on the second game. We have an opportunity to go and be one step closer and that's all we can ask for – that opportunity. We have to take advantage of it."