49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

January 4, 2008
Where does Willis stand all time?

So where does Patrick Willis’ amazing rookie season stack up on the all-time list. Like I’ve written before, it’s very fuzzy. The NFL only started keeping track of tackle statistics in the last 20 years and those numbers are so subjective and prone to error that they’re not reliable. As it stands, Willis’ 174 tackles this year would tie him with Tampa Bay’s Broderick “Who?” Thomas for 12th place on the all-time list. But take a close look at the list. Doesn’t it seem funny to you? The vast majority are from the 1991, ’92. and ’93 seasons, giving me the impression that the numbers were tallied a bit more liberally back then. Who knows? The bottom line is that Willis had a helluva rookie season and ought to get a few votes for defensive player of the year.

All Time Defensive Leaders (Totals) - Top 25

Player Season G Tot
1 Hardy Nickerson 1993 TB 16 214
2 Jessie Tuggle 1991 Atl 16 207
3 Chris Spielman 1994 Det 16 195
4 Jessie Tuggle 1992 Atl 15 193
5t Dante Jones 1993 Chi 16 189
5t Mike Merriweather 91 Min 16 189
7 Jessie Tuggle 1993 Atl 16 185
8 Ray Lewis 1997 Bal 16 184
9 Mike Johnson 1993 Cle 16 181
10 Mike Johnson 1992 Cle 16 176
11 Byron Evans 1992 Phi 16 175
12 Broderick Thomas 1991 TB 16 174
13 Jonathan Vilma 2005 NYJ 16 173
14 Kurt Gouveia 1993 Was 16 171
15 Michael Brooks 1992 Den 15 170
16t Jack Del Rio 1993 Min 16 169
16t Kurt Gouveia 1992 Was 16 169
18t Brad Edwards 1992 Was 16 168
18t Ray Lewis 1999 Bal 16 168 131
20 Jamie Sharper 2003 Hou 16 166
21t Victor Green 1996 NYJ 16 165
21t Zach Thomas 2006 Mia 16 165
23 Ray Lewis 2003 Bal 16 163 121
24t Scott Case 1991 Atl 16 162 68
24t Donnie Edwards 2003 SD 16 162

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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