SAN FRANCISCO -- Patrick Willis had heard all the whispers about Arizona Cardinals running back Edgerrin James.
Now he was about to face reality.
Willis was starting his first game as the San Francisco 49ers' middle linebacker two years ago when he found James barreling toward him on an off-tackle play. It was the kind of moment when Willis expected to justify his value as a big-hitting first-round pick.
Instead, James crashed into him with so much force that Willis blacked ...