49ers Blog and Q&A

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

November 3, 2011
Willis doesn't care about tackle totals

Inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman ranks second in the league with 68 tackles. To find teammate Patrick Willis, a two-team league leader in tackles, you have to go all the way down to no. 25. Willis has 54 stops on the season, tying him with Houston's Brian Cushing.


Guess who doesn't care about that ranking? Patrick Willis.

"At the end of the day, I've done all that," Willis said today. "Whether it's leading the league or it's leading the team in tackles. To me, the most important thing is winning, and that's something I haven't been able to do."

One of the reasons why Willis' tackle total is down is that he's being asked to cover tight ends more than in previous seasons. Doing so tends to take him down the field and out of the area where the tackle is occurring.

"I'm taking pride in it," Willis said. "It's something that a lot of people said I couldn't do. Me, I like proving those guys wrong.... ... I just want to be a complete linebacker when it's all said and done. I don't want to be one-dimensional. I want to be able to do it all."

With Chris Cooley (finger) out for the season, the tight end that Willis looks to match up against in Washington is Fred Davis, who ranks second among tight ends by averaging 73.9 receiving yards a game. Davis suffered an ankle injury on Sunday and did not take part in Wednesday's practice. He was limited today.

Odds & Ends

• It's looking more likely that Ricky Jean Francois will start at left defensive end in place of Ray McDonald (hamstring). Jean Francois said that the Redskins zone blocking running game is similar to that of the Texans, one of the 49ers' preseason opponents.

• The NFL ranks defenses by their average yards allowed. Coordinator Vic Fangio, however, said the stat he considers most important is points allowed. The 49ers rank first in that category, allowing opponents only 15.3 points a game.

• Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said he got the idea that nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga might be a good option at receiver after watching him warm up before practices and games. Sopoaga often throws the ball 50 and 60 yards during those sessions. Does that mean there's something in the playobook where he's used on a fullback option? "There might be," Roman said archly.

-- Matt 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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