49ers legend Willis grew up Cowboys fan, couldn't stand SF

Patrick Willis

Never say never.

That's what Patrick Willis' father used to tell him when the linebacker claimed as a kid he wouldn't play for the 49ers.

Willis admits he grew up a loyal Dallas Cowboys fan, which, of course, meant he had no love for the Niners.

"I was a die-hard Cowboys fan growing up, so I just couldn't stand the 49ers," Willis told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco on the latest "49ers Talk" podcast.

The 49ers, of course, eventually drafted Willis with the No. 11 pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, a move that was somewhat surprising to Willis. But he wouldn't change a thing now.

"The only interaction I had with the team was during the Senior Bowl. When on draft day they called, I'll just never forget it, the first thing that popped into my head was [Mike] Singletary and bag drills. But, all in all, I was very fortunate to be able to go to the Niners at that position, at that pick, at that time.

"If I had to do it all over again, even as anyone would -- Hey, I could have been the first guy taken off the board, you know respectfully to everyone who went before and after -- I was really happy to end up playing for the 49ers."

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Willis, who played eight seasons in San Francisco, was named to the 49ers Hall of Fame on Wednesday along with wide receiver John Taylor. He notched 733 solo tackles and 20.5 sacks in his career.


All told, Willis is glad he listened to his father.

"To anyone, I would say never say never," Willis said. "My daddy would always sit me down when I was a kid I'd say, 'I'll never play for the Niners.' You know, I'd be ready to fight if anyone said I wanted to play for the 49ers, because my cousins liked the Niners growing up but I didn't, and low and behold, now that's what I bleed."

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