10 questions with Patrick Willis

Mississippi linebacker Patrick Willis gives his initial impressions of being drafted by the 49ers with the No. 11 overall selection in the first round of the NFL draft.

Q: Did you have a feeling at all that you would be going to the 49ers?
Willis:
I heard different things throughout the process. I heard San Francisco, Buffalo, just a little bit of everything, but I never paid any attention. All that matters is that teams call your phone and say we're picking you. When San Francisco called with about a minute left, my heart was beating fast. I thought that maybe that team wasn't for me.

Q: How well did you get to know Mike Singletary at the Senior Bowl?
Willis:
I got to know him really well. He's similar to my other coaches and for the last three years I have been coached harder and disciplined. I'm ready to go there and give them everything I have got and give the organization everything I have.

Q: When you were at the Senior Bowl, did you get a feeling that the 49ers were taking a liking to you? And did you think that would be a place, with that coaching staff, that you would like to end up?
Willis:
To be honest, I really wasn't for sure. I just wanted to go down there and give everybody a chance to see that this athlete can play at this level; this athlete can compete no matter what the situation was or where I played and that I could come down here and play. San Francisco was that one especially with that pick that they had. I'm glad they took an interest in me.

Q: What are your thoughts about playing in the 3-4 defense?
Willis:
Throughout this process going to visit teams, I learned different concepts of the 3-4 and what that's about, so now I'm just going to have to learn this 3-4. I'm a tough person and I'm confident and would like to play in any defense, so just teach me how and I'll show you.

Q: What do you remember of Singletary putting on the board in terms of a 3-4?
Willis:
I never took a visit our there to San Francisco, and at the Senior Bowl everything was the 4-3, so he never showed me anything about the 3-4.

Q: Can you describe your game for us? Can you tell us what your strengths are?
Willis:
Being very instinctive and wanting to go out there and find the ball and wanting to win. As far as athleticism and all of the above, I don't see myself as a one-dimensional linebacker. I don't see myself as an outside or an inside, I see myself as an athlete.

Q: After everything you've gone through in your upbringing, what does this day mean to you?
Willis:
It's been a dream, and now that it's happening, I still can't believe that it's going to happen. Today is the first day and I thank all the people that got me to this point and I just want to continue to press harder and continue to do well and someday be a Hall of Fame player, that's my next goal.

Q: Being a number one pick in the NFL, it changes everybody's family, but your family has been through a lot. What is it going to do for your siblings and everybody in your life?
Willis:
I think as far as financially, it's going to help us out a lot. I'll be able to do things for my family that I never thought I would be able to do. As far as that goes, today is a very blessed day and I want to continue to make my family proud. As long as I know I can accomplish things in life, I think they will be happy about that too.

Q: What do you know about the 49ers organization and its history?
Willis:
I know that they used to have a great team back in the day with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, and Steve Young. As far as today's generation, I know that the offense really came about last year, with the running back position and the quarterback and the whole offense putting up points, and the defense was doing well too. When people started making rumors that I could possibly end up there, I was like that would be a great fit because all my life I have been playing for a team that's trying to get to another level, whether it's been my high school team or Ole Miss. Now that I'm in this position to continue to help a team and get on another level, I can't wait to get in there and help those guys.

Q: Are you expecting to come in here and start right away?
Willis:
Yes sir, there is no doubt in my mind. I want to come in here, and whoever is in front of me, I want to push them to be the best they can be because everyday that I step out on to that field, I want to be the best that I can be. If it's good enough for the time the season starts and the coaches think it is, then I would start. But if its not, then its just special teams and whatever I have to do to help the team and contribute to the program. I'm all for it.


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