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Bill Walsh
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Walsh (left) with San Jose State head football coach Dick Tomey in 2007.
Head coach
Personal information
Date of birth: (1931-11-30)November 30, 1931
Place of birth: Los Angeles, California
Date of death: July 30, 2007(2007-07-30) (aged 75)
Place of death: Woodside, California
Career information
College: San José State
No regular season or postseason appearances
Made coaching debut in 1966 for the Oakland Raiders
Last coached in 1994 for the Stanford Cardinal
Career history
 As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Win-Loss Record     92-59
Winning %     .609
Games     152
Pro Football Hall of Fame

William Ernest "Bill" Walsh (November 30, 1931 – July 30, 2007) was a head coach for the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford Cardinal football team, during which time he popularized the West Coast offense.


TEAMS AWARDS MEDIA BOOKS STATS TRADING CARDS IMAGES

Walsh went 102–63–1 with the 49ers, winning ten of his 14 postseason games along with six division titles, three NFC Championship titles, and three Super Bowls. He was named the NFL's Coach of the Year in 1981 and 1984. In 1993, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Early careerEdit

Born in Los Angeles, Walsh started his career in the San Francisco Bay Area as a running back for Hayward High School in Hayward.[1]

Walsh attended College of San Mateo for two years as a quarterback. He then transferred to San José State University, where he played as a tight end and a defensive end. He also participated in intercollegiate boxing. Walsh graduated from San Jose State with a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1955. He served under Bob Bronzan as a graduate assistant coach on the Spartans football coaching staff and graduated with a master's degree in physical education from San Jose State in 1959.[2] His master's thesis was entitled Flank Formation Football -- Stress:: Defense. Thesis 796.W228f[3]

Following graduation, Walsh coached at Washington High School in Fremont, leading the football and swim teams.

Walsh was coaching in Fremont when he interviewed for an assistant coaching position with Marv Levy, who had just been hired as the head coach at the University of California, Berkeley.

"I was very impressed, individually, by his knowledge, by his intelligence, by his personality and hired him," Levy said.

After Cal, he did a stint at Stanford as an assistant coach, before beginning his pro coaching career.

Professional football careerEdit

Walsh began his pro coaching career in 1966 as an assistant with the AFL's Oakland Raiders. As a Raider assistant, Walsh was trained in the vertical passing offense favored by Al Davis, putting Walsh in Davis' mentor Sid Gillman's coaching tree.

In 1968, Walsh moved to the AFL expansion Cincinnati Bengals, joining the staff of legendary coach Paul Brown. It was there that Walsh developed the philosophy now known as the "West Coast Offense", as a matter of necessity. Cincinnati's new quarterback, Virgil Carter, was known for his great mobility and accuracy but lacked a strong arm necessary to throw deep passes. Thus, Walsh modified the vertical passing scheme he had learned during his time with the Raiders, designing a horizontal passing system that relied on quick, short throws - often spreading the ball across the entire width of the field.[4] The new offense was much better suited to Carter's physical abilities; he led the league in pass completion percentage in 1971.

Walsh spent eight seasons as an assistant with the Bengals. Ken Anderson eventually replaced Carter as starting QB, and together with star wide receiver Isaac Curtis, produced a consistent, effective offensive attack.

When Brown retired as head coach following the 1975 season and appointed Bill "Tiger" Johnson as his successor, Walsh resigned and served as an assistant coach for Tommy Prothro with the San Diego Chargers in 1976. In a 2006 interview,[5] Walsh claimed that during his tenure with the Bengals, Brown "worked against my candidacy" to be a head coach anywhere in the league. "All the way through I had opportunities, and I never knew about them," Walsh said. "And then when I left him, he called whoever he thought was necessary to keep me out of the NFL."

In 1977, Walsh was hired as the head coach at Stanford where he stayed for two seasons. His two Stanford teams went 9–3 in 1977 with a win in the Sun Bowl, and 8–4 in 1978 with a win in the Bluebonnet Bowl; his notable players at Stanford included quarterbacks Guy Benjamin and Steve Dils, wide receivers James Lofton and Ken Margerum, and running back Darrin Nelson. Walsh was the Pac-8 Conference Coach of the Year in 1977.

In 1979, Walsh was hired as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. The long-suffering 49ers went 2–14 in 1978, the season before Walsh's arrival and repeated the same dismal record in his first season. Walsh doubted his abilities to turn around such a miserable situation—but earlier in 1979, Walsh drafted quarterback Joe Montana from Notre Dame in the third round.

Walsh turned over the starting job to Montana in 1980, when the 49ers improved to 6–10. San Francisco won its first championship in 1981, just two years after winning two games.

Under Walsh the 49ers won Super Bowl championships in 1981, 1984 and 1988. Walsh served as 49ers head coach for ten years, and during his tenure he and his coaching staff perfected the style of play known popularly as the West Coast offense. Walsh was nicknamed "The Genius" for both his innovative playcalling and design. Walsh would regularly script the first 10-15 plays to be run on offense before the start of each game.

In addition to drafting Joe Montana, Walsh drafted Ronnie Lott, Charles Haley, and Jerry Rice. He also traded a 2nd and 4th round pick in the 1987 draft for Steve Young. His success with the 49ers was rewarded with his election to the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

1981 championshipEdit

The 1981 season saw Walsh lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl championship; the team rose from the cellar to the top of the NFL in just two seasons. Four important wins during the 1981 season were two wins each over the Los Angeles Rams and the Dallas Cowboys. The Rams were only one year removed from a Super Bowl appearance, and had dominated the series with the 49ers for nearly a decade. The 49ers' two wins over the Rams in 1981 marked the shift of dominance in favor of the 49ers that lasted until the late 1990s.

In 1981, the 49ers blew out the Cowboys in week 6 of the regular season. On Monday Night Football that week, the 49ers' win was not included in the famous halftime highlights. Walsh felt that this was because the Cowboys were scheduled to play the Rams the next week in a rare Sunday night game and that showing the highlights of the 49ers' win would potentially hurt the game's ratings. However, Walsh used this as a motivating factor for his team, who felt they were disrespected.[6]

The 49ers faced the Cowboys again that same season in the NFC title game. The game was very close, and in the fourth quarter Walsh called a series of running plays as the 49ers marched down the field against the Cowboys prevent defense, which had been expecting the 49ers to mainly pass. The 49ers came from behind to win the game on Dwight Clark's memorable TD reception (The Catch), propelling Walsh to his first Super Bowl. Walsh and the 49ers defeated Cincinnati in the Super Bowl, which was played in Pontiac, Michigan. Walsh would later write that the 49ers' two wins over the Rams showed a shift of power in their division, while the wins over the Cowboys showed a shift of power in the conference.

Prominent assistant coachesEdit

Many of his assistant coaches went on to be head coaches, including George Seifert, Mike Holmgren, Mike Shanahan, Ray Rhodes, and Dennis Green. These coaches in turn have their own disciples who have utilized Walsh's West Coast system. Walsh was viewed as a strong advocate for African-American head coaches in the NFL and NCAA.[7] Along with Rhodes and Green, Tyrone Willingham became the head coach at Stanford, then later Notre Dame and Washington. One of Mike Shanahan's assistants, Karl Dorrell went on to be the head coach at UCLA, and is now the Wide Receiver's coach for the Miami Dolphins under Head Coach Tony Sparano. Walsh directly helped propel Dennis Green into the NFL head coaching ranks by offering to take on the head coaching job at Stanford.

Bill Walsh coaching treeEdit

Many former and current NFL head coaches trace their lineage back to Bill Walsh on his coaching tree, shown below.[8] Walsh, in turn, belonged to the coaching tree of American Football League great and Hall of Fame coach Sid Gillman of the AFL's Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers. File:Walsh Coaching Tree3.png

Later careerEdit

File:Walsh and tomey.jpg

After leaving the coaching ranks immediately following his team's victory in Super Bowl XXIII, Walsh went to work as a broadcaster for NBC (teaming with Dick Enberg to form the lead broadcasting team while replacing Merlin Olsen in the booth). Walsh returned to Stanford once again as head coach in 1992 (Bob Trumpy subsequently replaced him on the NBC telecasts), leading the Cardinal to a 10-3 record and a Pacific-10 Conference co-championship. Stanford finished the season with an upset victory over Penn State in the Blockbuster Bowl on January 1, 1993 and a # 9 ranking in the final AP Poll. In 1994, after consecutive losing seasons, Walsh left Stanford and retired from coaching.

Walsh would also return to the 49ers, serving as Vice President and General Manager from 1999 to 2001 and was a special consultant to the team for three years afterwards. In 2004, Walsh was appointed as special assistant to the athletic director at Stanford. In 2005, after then-athletic director Ted Leland stepped down to take a position at the University of the Pacific, Walsh was named interim athletic director. He also acted as a consultant for his alma mater San Jose State University in their search for an Athletic Director and Head Football Coach in 2005.

Bill Walsh was also the author of three books, a motivational speaker, and taught classes at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Walsh was a Board Member for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is named after Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott, and is awarded annually to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. Walsh served as a keynote speaker at the award's banquet.[9]

IllnessEdit

Walsh was diagnosed with leukemia in 2004. In November 2006, he confirmed that he was undergoing treatment for the illness at the Stanford University Medical Center.

DeathEdit

Bill Walsh died of leukemia at 10:45 am on July 30, 2007, at his home in Woodside, California.[1] Following Walsh's death, the playing field at Candlestick Park was renamed "Bill Walsh Field".[10] Additionally, the regular San Jose State versus Stanford football game was renamed the "Bill Walsh Legacy Game".[11]

FamilyEdit

Bill Walsh is survived by his wife Geri, his son Craig and his daughter Elizabeth. Walsh also lost a son, Steve, in 2002.

BooksEdit

  • Bill Walsh and Glenn Dickey, Building a Champion: On Football and the Making of the 49ers. St Martin's Press, 1990. (ISBN 0-312-04969-2).
  • Bill Walsh, Brian Billick and James A. Peterson, Finding the Winning Edge. Sports Publishing, 1998. (ISBN 1-571-67172-2).
  • Bill Walsh with Steve Jamison and Craig Walsh, The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership. Penguin Group Publishing, 2009 (ISBN 978-1-59184-266-8).

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Tom Fitzgerald (2007-07-30). "Former 49er head coach Bill Walsh dies". San Francisco Chronicle. http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/07/30/BAG57LR8OK21.DTL.
  2. "San Jose State Legend Bill Walsh Dies" (Press release). San Jose State University. July 30, 2007. http://www.wacsports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=10100&ATCLID=1139580. Retrieved 2007-10-01.
  3. Daniel Brown, Jon Wilner and Mack Lundstrom (July 31, 2007). "Coaching legend Bill Walsh dies at 75". San Jose Mercury News. http://www.mercurynews.com/billwalsh/ci_6505664. Retrieved 2007-10-01.
  4. Mile High Report: Bill Walsh....
  5. Sam Farmer (December 22, 2006). "Living Legend". Los Angeles Times. p. D1.
  6. Bill Walsh (2009). The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership. Penguin Group. p. 169.
  7. Glenn Dickey (2002-01-14). "It’s past time". ProFootballWeekly.com. http://archive.profootballweekly.com/content/archives2001/features_2001/dickey_011402.asp.
  8. Len Pasquarelli. "An offense by any other name ...". ESPN.com. http://static.espn.go.com/nfl/s/westcoast/history.html. Retrieved 2009-03-12.
  9. http://www.lottimpacttrophy.com/news/article/-you-are-looking-live-at-
  10. "49ers home field to be named after Walsh". ESPN. August 10, 2007. http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2969252. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
  11. Michelle Smith (September 12, 2007). "Walsh's legacy all over this game". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/09/12/SPOBS3G79.DTL&type=sports. Retrieved 2007-11-11.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Merlin Olsen
NFL on NBC lead analyst
1989-1991
Succeeded by
Bob Trumpy
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Tom Flores
Tom Flores
Joe Gibbs
Super Bowl Winning Head Coach
Super Bowl XVI, 1981
Super Bowl XIX, 1984
Super Bowl XXIII, 1988
Succeeded by
Joe Gibbs
Mike Ditka
George Seifert

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