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Former 49ers HC Harbaugh excited for Willis' Hall of Fame honor

Former 49ers HC Harbaugh excited for Willis' Hall of Fame honor originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

  • Programming Note: Watch Matt Maiocco's full Radio Row interview with Jim Harbaugh on "49ers Live" tonight at 5 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Bay Area

Former 49ers All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis became San Francisco's latest Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee on Thursday night.

Jim Harbaugh, Willis’ coach of four years in San Francisco, was proud of his former player's huge accomplishment.

Harbaugh discussed Willis' Hall of Fame induction in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco on Friday at Super Bowl Radio Row.

“Talking about one of the great competitors,” Harbaugh told Maiocco. “I mean one of the toughest warriors that the National Football League has ever seen. I saw the x-rays of his hands, of his feet after the 2014 season. ‘How are you doing this? How are you able to play?' You go back and look, he played with a club on one or both hands, I bet over 50 percent of the time. From [his] college days to the NFL. Screws in the feet, scar tissue, healed fractures – in every part of his hands and feet.”

Willis notoriously was a tough player and a staple of the Harbaugh-led 49ers teams. Throughout his eight-year NFL career, Willis was a seven-time NFL Pro Bowl selection and received five All-Pro honors.

Hanging up his cleats in 2014, Willis finished with 950 total tackles, 20.5 sacks, eight interceptions and two touchdowns. He started all 112 games he played in.

In addition to describing his strength and perseverance through injuries and setbacks, Harbaugh also acknowledged Willis’ impact on younger football players.

“Still to this day, ‘Patrick Willis,’ that [name] resonates with the young players, the high school players,” Harbaugh said. “[They’ll] talk to me, ‘What was Patrick Willis like?’ My college players would ask me ‘Patrick and NaVorro Bowman, what were those two guys like?’ I mean, they’re two of the greatest to ever play the game.”

The new Los Angeles Chargers coach has been through a lot with Willis, including San Francisco’s 34-31 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.

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