Who doesn't love Patrick Willis, one of the classiest individuals in the NFL.
How could this linebacking legend possibly have a breakout season at this stage of his career?
Defensive Player of the Year honors, that’s how. (To go along with his 2007 Defensive Rookie of the Year.)
Well, also include career highs in interceptions and sacks.
Willis will continually be given coverage responsibilities by the 49ers coaching staff. He will snare more interceptions in this regard as he consistently blankets the NFL’s new hottest thing (tight ends, that is) on a regular basis.
He will also best his single-season sack mark of six by mastering this aspect of his game.
Fans should certainly expect Fangio to implement a variety of blitzing packages to diversify his four-man pass rush defense that was already so effective in 2011. Willis will definitely be a feature in these schemes.
With his twin NaVorro Bowman roaming the expanse of the field alongside him, don’t presume his tackle numbers will ever quite reach his rookie-year totals (174, to be exact).
But do reckon that he’ll notch more than six sacks, four forced fumbles and three interceptions.
Say hello to Patrick Willis, your 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
(I suppose I won’t be too angry if the award goes to his equally deserving teammate, Justin Smith.)