As a lifelong 49ers fan, the day Patrick Willis retired I was heartbroken. He was the centerpiece of a dominating defense that took San Francisco deep into the playoffs from 2011-2013. He gave us fans hope that a 6th Super Bowl trophy was in the near future and it felt like no matter how bad the offense played, Patrick Willis and the defense would somehow keep us in the game. After going to the Pro Bowl seven times in his first seven years in the NFL, Willis only played 6 games in 2014. He then elected to have surgery on his big toe which ended his 8th season. Willis had the potential to be an all-time great at inside linebacker but instead he hung up his cleats at the age of 30.