Niners' Willis decides to call it a career

Santa Clara, CA ( - San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis made it official Tuesday and has announced his retirement.

Willis spent each of his eight seasons with San Francisco and was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection. He joined fellow linebackers Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas as the only defensive players since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to be selected to the Pro Bowl in each of their first seven seasons.

The 30-year-old veteran played just six games last season because of a toe injury that eventually required surgery. He registered 34 tackles with an interception.

"Patrick epitomizes everything you could ever want in a San Francisco 49er," said 49ers CEO Jed York in a statement Tuesday. "What he brought to this team goes much further than his athletic abilities. His leadership and infectious love for the game helped propel this team. I consider myself very lucky to have grown up around some of the greatest players in the history of this franchise, and Patrick has certainly secured his place among that elite group of men. As a member of our family, Patrick holds a special place in our hearts, and we look forward to supporting him as he moves on from his playing career."

Willis was a first-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft and recorded more than 100 tackles in six of his first seven seasons. The Ole Miss product also had 20 1/2 sacks with eight interceptions, starting each of the 112 games he played for the franchise.