The San Francisco 49ers are expecting an official announcement from All-Pro LB Patrick Willis that he will retire from the NFL after eight seasons with the team.
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According to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, the star MLB for the 49ers is expected to hang up the cleats at the relatively young age of 30, and that the announcement will likely be made on Tuesday.
Arguably the best MLB in the NFL since entering the league in 2007, Willis has won more accolades than almost any other defensive player in the league. With 7 Pro Bowl selections, 6 All-Pro selections, Defensive Rookie of the Year Honors and seven seasons with over 100 tackles, Willis could very well be a Hall of Fame candidate down the road despite his early retirement. He is one of only seven players since 1970 to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven NFL seasons.
Willis missed 10 1/2 games in 2014 due to a toe injury which required surgery, but outside of that, he only missed six games in his first eight seasons with the 49ers.
Maiocco also reported that 49ers veteran DE Justin Smith is expected to retire as well. Smith, a 14-year veteran taken by the Cincinnati Bengals 4th overall in the 2001 NFL draft, made five straight Pro Bowls for the 49ers from 2009 to 2013 and earned All-Pro honors three times from 2011 to 2013.