Join us here at ALFCA during the month of March–it’s Bill Walsh month. We will take a look at the 49ers legendary coach and his philosophies of football. Walsh’s ideas are still be used today from the NFL to high school.
Walsh played at the College of San Mateo and San Jose State and then spent two years in the Army participating on their boxing team. He then entered the coaching field and built a championship football team at Washington High School in Fremont, California, while also coaching the swim team. Walsh left Fremont for a position on the staff of Marv Levy at the University of California. Both Levy and Walsh would end up in the NFL Hall of Fame, but they never had a winning season at Cal. He left Cal to be an assistant at Stanford, and then moved on to join Al Davis with the Oakland Raiders in 1966. Walsh only stayed one season, but he learned a great deal about the vertical passing game.
After a season as a head coach in the Continental League, Walsh joined the expansion AFL Cincinnati Bengals in 1968, working with the legendary Paul Brown. His offense featured quarterback Virgil Carter, who was mobile and accurate on short throws but lacked deep arm power. The Bengals offensive line wasn’t very good either. Walsh developed more of a horizontal passing game for Carter with sprints and quick throws that were easier to protect. Carter would eventually led the league in pass completion percentage. The new offense would be dubbed, “The West Coast Offense.” Walsh stayed with the Bengals for eight years. But when Brown retired, he was passed over for head coach of the Bengals for Bill Johnson.
Walsh left the Bengals and spent 1976 as an assistant with the San Diego Chargers. He became head coach at Stanford in 1977, and his offense turned him into the Pac 8 Coach of the Year in his first season. After two seasons there, Walsh was hired for his first NFL coaching job at age 49 by the San Francisco 49ers. In his third season, the 49ers beat the Bengals to be Super Bowl champions. His 49’ers dynasty would give him 3 NFC titles and 3 Super Bowl championships. He retired from the Niners in 1989, but would come back and coach Stanford for three seasons in the early 90’s.
Walsh, who was nicknamed “The Genius”, passed away from leukemia on 2007 at the age 75.