SANTA CLARA -- Patrick Willis said he's in the best shape of his career as the 49ers' Pro Bowl linebacker enters his seventh NFL season.

"I really feel mentally and physically, I'm in the best shape that I've been in since I was a rookie," said Willis, a Pro Bowler in each of his first six seasons. "I feel like mentally, I'm in a place that I've never been in before."

The 28-year-old said he's still as fast as he ever was, but he's learning new tricks that may help him as his career progresses.

"I learned this camp that you don't have to move as fast if you're smarter," Willis said. "It almost looks like you're not moving at all but you're making the plays. That's where I'm trying to get to in my career."

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis runs drills during NFL football minicamp at the team’s training facility in Santa Clara, Calif.,
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis runs drills during NFL football minicamp at the team's training facility in Santa Clara, Calif., Wednesday, June 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Despite the sting of last season's Super Bowl loss, Willis isn't overanxious for this season to start. He wants to make sure the team puts in its work to prepare for another run at a title.

"When you give it everything you've got, which our team did to get as far as we made it. ... Unfortunately we didn't get the win, but we put forth a lot of effort, a lot of energy, a lot of time," Willis said. "So it's one of those things where you just let the season come. It'll be here before you know it."



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