Willis on Alex Smith: “Now he gets to enjoy the fruits of his labor.”

SANTA CLARA – Patrick Willis spoke at his locker Wednesday afternoon. Here’s what he said.

Q: Did your offense surprise you at all against the Bills?

WILLIS: We got out here and practice every day and we see the way those guys practice. For them to go out there and put up the numbers that they put up, they were extraordinary numbers. We never underestimate our offense. We know that they’re capable, at any time, of having a big game.

Q: How good is Eli Manning?

WILLIS: Eli, he’s a tough quarterback. You have to play against that guy for 60 minutes. As long as you’re out there on defense, you can’t take a series off. He’s capable at any time of making a big play.

Q: How good is Ahmad Bradshaw?

WILLIS: Ahmad Bradshaw, he runs the ball hard. They’re big into their running game and it plays into their offensive game. It’s going to be a good game. We played them twice last year and it was a good game both times, but they won the one that counted the most, the last game. It’s another opportunity for us to go out there again and play against a good football team. We’ll see what happens. Our mindset is really just to go out there and continue to play team football and continue to play team defense. We just want to go out there week in, week out and play great defense.

Q: Dashon wearing your jersey at his press conference just a few minutes ago. He said he was representing the team captain. What that mean to you?

WILLIS: (Laughs) Dashon… It’s truly an honor. It’s a blessing to be one of those guys, captains. I tell them all the time, they voted me capatin, but I feel like everyone on this defense are captains. That’s why we all are equal because we all want the same thing. We all go out there and play the same way. We all go out there and play on one accord.

Q: Eli took a pounding in the NFC Championship. Did his toughness surprise you?

WILLIS: Not really. You’ve seen Eli over the years, him go through that. I think early on in his career people were writing him off a little bit and were all over him saying maybe he’s not as good as people thought he was. You’ve seen him continue to fight and now the man has two Super Bowl rings and you can’t take that away from him.

Q: Did you see his physical toughness in college when you played with him at Ole Miss?

WILLIS: My last year in college, he pretty much made it look almost easy. I never got to see adverse times that much. Also, back then I didn’t know what to look for, I was just happy to be winning.

Q: How gratifying for you is it that Alex Smith is playing well?

WILLIS: It’s great for him. He’s a guy who has certainly been at the bottom early on in his career. Just to see him doing the things he’s doing this year and really just to see him go through those tough times and press right through them to be where he is today. I’m a firm believer that things happen in life, good or bad, but when things start to turn around for you, that path you took. You look at the good, you look at the bad and it makes where you are right now in life that much sweeter because you know what it’s like to go through those tough times. He certainly did and now he gets to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

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