Sports Outside the Beltway

Former 49ers coach Bill Walsh dead at 75

He is an NFL coaching legend.

SAN FRANCISCO – Bill Walsh, the groundbreaking football coach who won three Super Bowls and perfected the ingenious schemes that became known as the West Coast offense during a Hall of Fame career with the San Francisco 49ers, has died. He was 75.

Walsh died at his Bay Area home early Monday following a long battle with leukemia, according to Stanford University, where he served as coach and athletic director.

Walsh didn’t become an NFL head coach until 47, and he spent just 10 seasons on the San Francisco sideline. But he left an indelible mark on the United States’ most popular sport, building the once-woebegone 49ers into the most successful team of the 1980s with his innovative offensive strategies and teaching techniques.

The soft-spoken native Californian also produced a legion of coaching disciples that’s still growing today. Many of his former assistants went on to lead their own teams, handing down Walsh’s methods and schemes to dozens more coaches in a tree with innumerable branches.

Walsh went 102-63-1 with the 49ers, winning 10 of his 14 postseason games along with six division titles. He was named the NFL’s coach of the year in 1981 and 1984.

I got to see the first of Walsh’s three Super Bowl wins in person. My father knowing Cincinnati Browns owner Paul Brown’s brother-in-law(Ironically Walsh was an assistant under Brown once), who when not able to go to the game, gave the tickets to Dad instead. The game, a 26-20 49er win, was a pretty good one so far as the Super Bowl is concerned.

Walsh also coached at Stanford in addition to supplying the NFL with a large number of head and assistant coaches. Many of whom are still working today. Bill Walsh will still leave his mark on Pro football even after his passing. RIP.

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