Willis top-rated 49ers player in #NFLRank

If Patrick Willis has lost a step, it’s one that precious few other players in the NFL had anyway. The San Francisco 49ers' five-time All-Pro inside linebacker checks in at No. 7 among all defensive players in the ESPN.com Top 100 players project a year after being No. 3.

“Willis has been selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his seven seasons, becoming only the third defensive player since the merger to do so (Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas),” according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Willis, 29, has been slowed in the preseason with a stinger and missed two games last season. After playing in all 16 games in each of his first three years, Willis, the No. 11 overall selection of the 2007 draft, has had just one 16-game season since 2010.

Willis is the seventh and highest-rated player from the 49ers’ defense to be included in the #NFLRank project, the 15th 49er overall. As such, the 49ers had the most total players ranked, followed by the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, who had 13. The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots each had 10 players. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders had the fewest, with two each.

The following are the 49ers' ranked players, with their respective rankings:


No. 81 – RT Anthony Davis

No. 54 – WR Anquan Boldin

No. 53 – LG Mike Iupati

No. 51 – WR Michael Crabtree

No. 42 – RB Frank Gore

No. 33 – QB Colin Kaepernick

No. 34 – LT Joe Staley

No. 18 – TE Vernon Davis


No. 97 – SS Antoine Bethea

No. 74 – LB Ahmad Brooks

No. 71 – FS Eric Reid

No. 26 – DT Justin Smith

No. 15 – LB Aldon Smith

No. 12 – LB NaVorro Bowman

No. 7 – LB Patrick Willis