COMMENTARY | The San Francisco 49ers will go as far as their quarterback can take them, and given his status as the league's best at his position, a Super Bowl title is well within reach for he and his team.
Willis was recently named No. 10 on the NFL's Top 100 players list, and he's arguably even better than that. Some of the discrepancy lies in the fact that he plays on the West Coast and outside of major NFL markets.
In the coming years, Willis figures to be in the conversation when it comes to the best overall player in the NFL. He has been compared to future Hall-of-Famer Ray Lewis because of his size, passion, and speed.
49ers fans hope he also has the same championship pedigree.
It's easy for fans to use statistics -- though he doesn't lack in that area in any regard -- as the lone measuring stick for the greatness of a player. But it's when a player's peers vote, as they did in this particular poll, that the ranking carries the most clout.
He is humble off the field, but a monster on it. His numbers support his transcendent natural ability. He has averaged 7.1 tackles per game over the course of his five-year career. At just 27 years old, he's entering the prime of his tenure with the 49ers.
As much parity as there has been in the NFL, the 49ers have all of the talent to be competitive for a long time. Their nucleus that includes Willis is young and hungry following their taste of success in the 2012 playoffs. It was no fluke that the team was just one game away from the Super Bowl.
As the offense comes into its own under Jim Harbaugh's tutelage and some much-needed continuity, the defense under Willis will take the 49ers into the status of the NFL's elite.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the San Francisco 49ers and the NFL. He has written for Southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com. For more sports insight, you can follow him on Twitter.