Bill Walsh (1931-2007)
1979 I had the opportunity to attend a San Francisco 49er luncheon
announcing the hiring of a new football coach named Bill Walsh.
October 20, 2009
I had recently moved to the San Francisco bay area, but I had
retained my football allegiance to the Boston Patriots, a team that, at
that time was pretty pathetic and a perennial loser. The previous year I
suffered through another depressing, lack luster Pat season and told
myself if the team doesn't fire Ron Earhart, I am looking for another
team to root for.
Of course, the Pats rehired Earhart and my friend said, "Why don't
you come along to this 49er luncheon, they just hired a new coach".
Over the course of my life, I can count on one hand, the number of
speakers that have totally captivated me with their style, eloquence and
motivation. Bill Walsh, on that day in 1979 did just that.
I became a San Francisco 49er fan and never looked back.
From the very first game in 1980, and for close to 20 years, I never
missed a single 49er game. It was a glorious run of 20 straight years
of winning championship football, orchestrated by one great football
coach: Bill Walsh.
They say football is a game of statistics.
So, here is Bill Wash's stats:
Nov. 30, 1931
Born in Los Angeles.
Graduates from Hayward High School, where he played on the football team.
Following two years at San Mateo Junior College, plays defensive and
offensive end for two years at San Jose State for coach Bob Bronzan.
Graduates with bachelor's degree in education from San Jose State.
Part-time assistant at San Jose State.
Becomes coach at Washington Union High School in Fremont.
Finishes 9-1 in his second year at the high school.
Gets master's degree in education from San Jose State.
Joins Marv Levy's staff at Cal as defensive coordinator.
Joins John Ralston's staff at Stanford as defensive backfield coach.
Takes first job in pro football, coaching running backs for the Raiders.
Coaches a semi-pro team, the San Jose Apaches.
Joins Paul Brown's staff with first-year expansion team, Cincinnati Bengals. Coaches tight ends.
Becomes Bengals' receivers coach.
Moves up to Bengals' quarterbacks/receivers coach. Holds same job through 1975 season.
Joins San Diego Chargers as offensive coordinator under Tommy
Prothro. Left Cincinnati after Paul Brown promoted another coach over
Walsh as his replacement.
Named head coach at Stanford University.
Named head coach and general manager of the 49ers on Jan. 9.
Downplays victory but is ecstatic after 49ers beat Paul Brown's
Bengals in Cincinnati, 21-3, on Dec. 6. A month later, the 49ers and
Bengals would meet in the Super Bowl.
Voted NFL coach of the year.
49ers win Super Bowl for the first time, beating the Bengals on Jan.
24. Considers quitting after the 49ers go 3-6 in strike-shortened
Adds team president to his title. 49ers reach the NFC championship game but lose to the Washington Redskins.
Leads team to 15-1 record. Team becomes first to win a Super Bowl in
its home area, beating Miami on Jan. 20, 1985, at Stanford Stadium.
Voted NFL coach of the year for the second time.
Sees 49ers begin streak of three consecutive years of losing in the first round of the playoffs.
Compiles NFL's best regular-season record, but team is upset at home
by the Vikings in the playoffs in January. Team owner Eddie DeBartolo
Jr. strips Walsh of his title as team president in March. After a 6-5
start to the season, the 49ers rally to finish 10-6.
With a wind chill of minus 26 degrees, the 49ers crush the Bears at
Soldier Field to win the NFC championship in January. Two weeks later,
he becomes the first NFC coach to win three Super Bowls, beating Brown's
Bengals again, this time on a touchdown pass by Joe Montana with 34
seconds remaining in the game.
Steps down as coach later in January and is replaced by George
Seifert. Remains with the 49ers to run the draft but leaves team before
the season starts. Joins NBC-TV as a network television analyst in June.
Finds "his bliss" when he returns to Stanford as head coach in January after three years in television.
Walsh's first Stanford team in his second incarnation as head coach
has a good year and wins a bowl game. His next two teams are not as
Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Out of football.
Returns to the 49ers as administrative assistant to the coaching
staff, working mostly with offensive coordinator Marc Trestman.
After Seifert leaves as 49ers coach, Walsh is out of the 49ers, at
least in a formal capacity. Spends next two years out of football.
Returns to 49ers as general manager.
Voluntarily moves to consultant post with 49ers as Terry Donahue takes over as general manager.
With his consulting contract expiring, Walsh returns to Stanford as special assistant to athletic director Ted Leland.
Becomes interim athletic director after Leland leaves Stanford. Is
in this position for much of the construction surrounding the remodel of
Stanford Stadium. Becomes special assistant to new athletic director
Bob Bowlsby when Bowlsby is hired and takes over midway through the
year. Appears at retirement ceremonies for Jerry Rice at halftime of
July 30, 2007
Dies at the age of 75 after a lengthy battle with leukemia.
THANKS, Bill for one hell of a run!