Willis Reacts to Super Bowl Announcement
Taylor Price, 49ers.com
Patrick Willis was born five days after Super Bowl XIX, the last time the Bay Area hosted the biggest game in professional sports.
Willis, 28, is eager to see the NFL’s showcase game return to the Bay Area in 2016. It was announced earlier on Tuesday that Levi’s® Stadium would host Super Bowl L, the 50th anniversary of the NFL’s championship game.
“It’s truly a blessing,” Willis, the four-time 49ers linebacker told NFL Network. “This new facility, if you haven’t seen it, it’s amazing. I just went in a couple of weeks ago and just to see how fast they’ve put it up and then just to hear about all of the things that are going to be in it and that are going on about it, it’s state of the art.”
The 49ers defensive captain is clearly focused on Tuesday’s first day of Organized Team Activities, but he didn’t mind pondering a potential scenario of the 49ers playing in Super Bowl L.
The first thing that came to Willis’ mind was the noise that the home crowd would create.
“Homefield advantage,” the 49ers linebacker said. “Anytime you can play at home it’s always great… It’s huge and just to think I get to play inside there, it’s crazy.”
Tuesday’s Super Bowl news was talked about in San Francisco’s locker room, but it wasn’t distracting the team from their goal of avenging last season’s defeat in Super Bowl XLVII.
“To get that close and to come up short, whether it’s by a couple of yards or whether it’s by a few points, it sucks,” Willis admitted. “It’s hard enough just to make it to the playoffs, and then just to get to the Super Bowl, that’s unbelievable itself.
“To lose it, it’s like, ‘Argh,’ because you never know. Every season we come out to work it’s about making it to the Super Bowl and winning it, but as we all know it doesn’t happen that easily. It’s hard to get there.”
Leaders on San Francisco’s roster like Willis are continuing to showcase the work ethic needed to get back to the Super Bowl and repeat as NFC champs.
“Our main focus is just to continue to work hard and be better than we were last year,” Willis said. “If we can do that, I feel like we can get back and we can win it.”
It’s not going to be an easy task for Willis and the 49ers. The first-team All-Pro linebacker has been following the flurry of offseason activity from NFC West counterparts.
Willis also knows that the activity of the St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks all mean greater attention on the division.
“I feel like for a long time people laughed at the NFC West and they kind of looked at us as a pushover division,” Willis said. “Now I feel like all of that has changed. I feel like we have some really good teams in this division.
“Seattle, they did tremendously well last year. We’re going to have to play. It’s going to be a dog fight; nothing is given to us or anyone, but that’s the way we like it at the 49ers. We don’t want it to be easy; we want it to be tough so that when we get it no one can take it away from us.”
The tough route will continue for the 49ers with OTA practices for the next two days followed by three more sessions the following week.