The San Francisco 49ers have rewarded their young defensive leader in a major way.
Linebacker Patrick Willis has agreed with the Niners on a five-year contract extension worth $50 million. In addition to the two years already remaining on his existing deal, the two time All-Pro linebacker is now property of the 49ers through the 2016 season.
Willis has made the Pro Bowl every year he has been in the league, and the 49ers did right by him, offering the extension despite two years remaining on his rookie deal. It’s especially noteworthy in this environment of labor uncertainty, showing how much respect Willis has earned from the team brass.
"The most important message management sent today is for those guys that go out and perform, we’re going to take care of our guys, and Pat is a tremendous example of that,” coach Mike Singletary said. "It’s a great day for the 49er organization. Our management could see the value, our ownership could see the value, in a young man like Patrick Willis, who embodies everything, on the field, off the field.”
That respect was also reflected in All-Pro voting last season, when Willis received more votes than any other NFL defensive player.
In 2009, Willis earned his third straight Pro Bowl berth, led the NFL in tackles for the second time in his career and recorded career-highs in both sacks (4.0) and interceptions (3).
"Wow. It’s been a long journey but it’s not over yet. I feel like it’s just beginning,” Willis said during a news conference at team headquarters. "It means a lot. It shows they really wanted me here — and it shows what they want and what I want are the same things: to win.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.