Patrick Willis is a run-stopping linebacker who can make tackles all over the field, sideline-to-sideline. It's not incredibly apparent at first glance, but he's a big reason why we have one of the better run defenses in the league. One way to tell that he's doing his job is to see how other run defenses do when their starting middle linebacker is out. There's a lot of blown assignments where runningbacks will rip 20+ yard runs. You RARELY ever see that happen with the 49ers.
He's still working on it and getting better, but he's improving his pass defense technique. As far as middle linebackers go, he's really good at it. I know tight ends get the better of him sometimes, but that is actually a REALLY hard assignment. Along with Bowman, we have two middle linebackers that are really good at pass coverage. It gives Fangio some flexibility in calling pass coverages.
As far as blitzing goes, Patrick Willis doesn't really do too much of it. He's normally used in pass coverage. But when he does occasionally blitz, they kind of use him to shoot a gap and blow up a runningback.
- Patrick Willis rarely misses tackles. YAC rarely happen.
- Patrick Willis is excellent in stripping the ball, causing incompletions and fumbles.
- Patrick Willis' speed allows him to catch up on plays where a player gets free. Ever seen that play in overtime against the Cardinals, where he ran down a Cardinals receiver?