Patrick Willis returns to practice field for 49ers

The freshly minted man at the center of the San Francisco 49ers defense got back on the field Monday. Linebacker Patrick Willis, one of the few players to cash in with an extension from his own team this offseason, returned to action for the first time since undergoing a minor arthroscopic cleanout on one of his knees in March.

Willis wasn’t cleared for team drills, according to David White of the San Francisco Chronicle, but received the go-ahead to do individual work on the side and that was a step in the right direction for a player who has missed the bulk of the voluntary workout program while he rehabilitates.

"Pat is not a very good guy to be around when can't do things," coach Mike Singletary. "He just worries you to death. He keeps asking questions, 'What about this or when do you think this will happen?'
"So I'm saying, 'When are you going to get dressed? When you are you going to get out of here?' It's just nervous energy."

Willis cashed in big time with a $50 million, five-year extension, a deal that includes $29 million guaranteed. Now, he doesn’t have to worry about longterm security at all and he can focus strictly on playing. The Niners are expected to challenge for the NFC West crown.

“It felt good to get back out there today,” Willis said. “They shocked me today doing individuals. They've been easing me in slowly."

The plan is for Willis to be at full speed before the team reports for training camp.

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