Willis Named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month

The San Francisco 49ers announced that LB Patrick Willis has been named Defensive Rookie of the Month for December by the National Football League.

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Willis had an impressive month bringing a close to one of the top performances by a defensive rookie in NFL history. He eclipsed the 20 tackle barrier twice in five contests, notching four double-digit tackle performances in that span. Willis posted 20 tackles (12 solo) at Carolina (12-2-07) and 20 tackles (12 solo) against Tampa Bay (12-23-07).

In the game against Tampa Bay, he also recorded 2 sacks, forced a fumble and had a pass defensed making it Willis' FIRST CAREER solo sack, his FIRST CAREER multi-sack game, and his third career 20-plus tackle game (he also recorded 21 tackles vs. Arizona 11-25-07). His forced fumble, caused on a 1-yard sack in the third quarter at the Tampa Bay 10-yard line, resulted in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Shaun Hill to Vernon Davis.

Willis also recorded 10 tackles (6 solo) and his first professional fumble recovery vs. Minnesota (12-9-07). He recovered a fumble forced by Walt Harris near the end of the second quarter.

Willis led the team with 12 total tackles and sack at Cleveland (12-3-07) to push his season total to 222 tackles. His tackle total established a new unofficial NFL record for tackles in a season, surpassing Hardy Nickerson's 214 tackles in 1993, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year went to RB Adrian Peterson on Wednesday. The Defensive Rookie of the Year is expected to be announced this week with Willis the most likely candidate to win the honors.

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