|Born:||November 30, 1931|
Los Angeles, California
|Died:||July 30, 2007 75) (aged|
|High school:||Hayward (CA)|
|College:||San Jose State|
|As a coach:|
|As an administrator:|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Coaching stats at PFR|
William Ernest Walsh (November 30, 1931 – July 30, 2007) was an American professional and college football coach. He served as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and the Stanford Cardinal, during which time he popularized the West Coast offense. After retiring from the 49ers, Walsh worked as a sports broadcaster for several years and then returned as head coach at Stanford for three seasons.
Walsh went 102–63–1 (wins-losses-ties) with the 49ers, winning 10 of his 14 postseason games along with six division titles, three NFC Championship titles, and three Super Bowls. He was named NFL Coach of the Year in 1981 and 1984. In 1993, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Born in Los Angeles, Walsh played running back in the San Francisco Bay Area for Hayward High School in Hayward.Walsh played quarterback at the College of San Mateo for two seasons. (Both John Madden and Walsh played and coached at the College of San Mateo early in their careers.) After playing at the College of San Mateo, Walsh transferred to San José State University, where he played tight end and defensive end. He also participated in intercollegiate boxing, winning the golden glove.
Walsh graduated from San Jose State with a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1955. After two years in the U.S. Army participating on their boxing team,Walsh built a championship team at Washington High School in Fremont before becoming an assistant coach at Cal, Stanford and then the Oakland Raiders in 1966.
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.His master's thesis was entitled Flank Formation Football -- Stress:: Defense. Thesis 796.W228f.
Following graduation, Walsh coached the football and swim teams at Washington High School in Fremont, California.
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. Levy and Walsh, two future NFL Hall of Famers, would never produce a winning season at Cal.
After coaching at Cal, Walsh did a stint at Stanford as an assistant coach, before beginning his pro coaching career.
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 1967 Walsh was the head coach and general manager of the San Jose Apaches of the Continental Football League (CFL). Walsh led the Apaches to 2nd place in the Pacific Division. Prior to the start of the 1968 CFL season the Apaches ceased all football operations.
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.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 quarterback, and together with star wide receiver Isaac Curtis, produced a consistent, effective offensive attack. Initially, Walsh started out as the wide receivers coach from 1968 to 1970 before also coaching the quarterbacks from 1971 to 1975.
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,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 were successful, posting a 9–3 record 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, linebacker Gordy Ceresino, in addition to running back Darrin Nelson. Walsh was the Pac-8 Conference Coach of the Year in 1977.
He was appointed head coach of the San Francisco 49ers on January 9, 1979, one day after both his resignation from Stanford and team owner Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr.'s dismissal of Walsh's predecessor Fred O'Connor and general manager Joe Thomas.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. But Walsh got the entire organization to buy into his philosophy and vowed to turn around a miserable situation. He also drafted quarterback Joe Montana from Notre Dame in the third round. Despite their second consecutive 2–14 record, the 49ers were playing more competitive football.
In 1980, Steve DeBerg was the starting quarterback who got San Francisco off to a 3–0 start, but after a 59–14 blowout loss to Dallas in week 6, Walsh promoted Montana to starting QB. In a Sunday game, December 7 vs. the New Orleans Saints, Montana brought the 49ers back from a 35–7 halftime deficit to win 38–35 in overtime. The 49ers improved to 6–10, but more importantly, Walsh had them making great strides and they were getting better every week.
In 1981, key victories were two wins each over the Los Angeles Rams and the Dallas Cowboys. The Rams were only two seasons removed from a Super Bowl appearance, and had dominated the series with the 49ers since 1967, winning 23, losing 3 and tying 1. San Francisco's two wins over the Rams in 1981 marked the shift of dominance in favor of the 49ers that lasted until 1998 with 30 wins (including 17 consecutively) against only 6 defeats. The 49ers blew out the Cowboys in week 6 of the regular season. On Monday Night Football that week, the win was not included in the halftime highlights. Walsh felt that this was because the Cowboys were scheduled to play the Rams the next week in a 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.The 49ers finished the regular season with a 13–3 record.
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 touchdown reception, known as The Catch, propelling Walsh to his first Super Bowl. 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.
San Francisco won its first championship a year removed from back-to-back two-win seasons. The 49ers won Super Bowl XVI, defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 26–21 in Pontiac, Michigan. Under Walsh the team rose from the cellar to the top of the NFL in just two seasons.
The 49ers won Super Bowl championships in the 1981, 1984 and 1988 seasons. Walsh served as 49ers head coach for 10 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 play calling and design. Walsh would regularly script the first 10–15 offensive plays before the start of each game. In the ten years during which Walsh was the 49ers' head coach, San Francisco scored 3,714 points (24.4 per game), the most of any team in the league during that span.
In addition to 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 Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Montana, Lott, Haley, Rice and Young were also elected to the Hall of Fame.
Many of Bill Walsh's assistant coaches went on to be head coaches themselves, including George Seifert, Mike Holmgren, Ray Rhodes, and Dennis Green. After Walsh's retirement from the 49ers, Seifert succeeded him as 49ers head coach, and guided San Francisco to victories in Super Bowl XXIV and Super Bowl XXIX. Holmgren won a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers, and made 3 Super Bowl appearances as a head coach: 2 with the Packers, and another with the Seattle Seahawks. These coaches in turn have their own disciples who have used Walsh's West Coast system, such as former Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan and former Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak. Mike Shanahan was an offensive coordinator under George Seifert and went on to win Super Bowl XXXII and Super Bowl XXXIII during his time as head coach of the Denver Broncos. Kubiak was first a quarterback coach with the 49ers, and then offensive coordinator for Shanahan with the Broncos. In 2015, he became the Broncos' head coach and led Denver to victory in Super Bowl 50. Dennis Green trained Tony Dungy, who won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts, and Brian Billick with his brother-in law and linebackers coach Mike Smith. Billick won a Super Bowl as head coach of the Baltimore Ravens.
Mike Holmgren trained many of his assistants to become head coaches, including Jon Gruden and Andy Reid. Gruden won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Reid served as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999 to 2012, and guided the Eagles to multiple winning seasons and numerous playoff appearances. Ever since 2013, Reid has served as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. He was finally able to win a Super Bowl, when his Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. In addition to this, Marc Trestman, former head coach of the Chicago Bears, served as Offensive Coordinator under Seifert in the 90's. Gruden himself would train Mike Tomlin, who led the Pittsburgh Steelers to their sixth Super Bowl championship, and Jim Harbaugh, whose 49ers would face his brother, John Harbaugh, whom Reid himself trained, and the Baltimore Ravens at Super Bowl XLVII, which marked the Ravens' second World Championship.
Bill Walsh was viewed as a strong advocate for African-American head coaches in the NFL and NCAA.Thus, the impact of Walsh also changed the NFL into an equal opportunity for African-American coaches. Along with Ray Rhodes and Dennis 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. Walsh directly helped propel Dennis Green into the NFL head coaching ranks by offering to take on the head coaching job at Stanford.
Many former and current NFL head coaches trace their lineage back to Bill Walsh on his coaching tree, shown below.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 and Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown.
Tree updated through December 9, 2015.
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, replacing Merlin Olsen.
During his time with NBC, rumors began to surface that Walsh would coach again in the NFL. There were at least two known instances.
First, according to a February 2015 article by Mike Florio of NBC Sports, after a 5–11 season in 1989, the Patriots fired Raymond Berry and unsuccessfully attempted to lure Walsh to Foxborough to become head coach and general manager. When that failed, New England promoted defensive coordinator Rod Rust; the team split its first two games and then lost 14 straight in 1990.
Second, late in the 1990 season, Walsh was rumored to become Tampa Bay's next head coach and general manager after the team fired Ray Perkins and promoted Richard Williamson on an interim basis. Part of the speculation was fueled by the fact that Walsh's contract with NBC, which ran for 1989 and 1990, would soon be up for renewal, to say nothing of the pressure Hugh Culverhouse faced to increase fan support and to fill the seats at Tampa Stadium. However, less than a week after Super Bowl XXV, Walsh not only declined Tampa Bay's offer, but he and NBC agreed on a contract extension. Walsh would continue in his role with NBC for 1991.Meanwhile, after unsuccessfully courting then-recently fired Eagles coach Buddy Ryan or Giants then-defensive coordinator Bill Belichick to man the sidelines for Tampa Bay in 1991, the Bucs stuck with Williamson. Under Williamson's leadership, Tampa Bay won only three games in 1991.
Walsh did return to Stanford as head coach in 1992, 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.
In 1996 Walsh returned to the 49ers as an administrative aideWalsh was the Vice President and General Manager for the 49ers 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, 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.
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.
Bill Walsh died of leukemia on July 30, 2007 at his home in Woodside, California.
Following Walsh's death, the playing field at the former Candlestick Park was renamed "Bill Walsh Field".Additionally, the regular San Jose State versus Stanford football game was renamed the "Bill Walsh Legacy Game".
Walsh is survived by his wife Geri, his son Craig and his daughter Elizabeth. Walsh had another son, Steve, who died in 2002.
|Stanford Cardinal (Pacific-8/Pacific-10 Conference)(1977–1978)|
|Stanford Cardinal (Pacific-10 Conference)(1992–1994)|
|1992||Stanford||10–3||6–2||T–1st||W Blockbuster †||9||9|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title or championship game berth|
|Team||Year||Regular Season||Post Season|
|Won||Lost||Ties||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|SF||1979||2||14||0||.125||4th in NFC West||—||—||—||—|
|SF||1980||6||10||0||.375||3rd in NFC West||—||—||—||—|
|SF||1981||13||3||0||.812||1st in NFC West||3||0||1.000||Super Bowl XVI champions|
|SF||1982||3||6||0||.333||11th in NFC||—||—||—||—|
|SF||1983||10||6||0||.625||1st in NFC West||1||1||.500||Lost to Washington Redskins in NFC Championship Game|
|SF||1984||15||1||0||.938||1st in NFC West||3||0||1.000||Super Bowl XIX champions|
|SF||1985||10||6||0||.625||2nd in NFC West||0||1||.000||Lost to New York Giants in NFC Wild Card Game|
|SF||1986||10||5||1||.656||1st in NFC West||0||1||.000||Lost to New York Giants in NFC Divisional Game|
|SF||1987||13||2||0||.867||1st in NFC West||0||1||.000||Lost to Minnesota Vikings in NFC Divisional Game|
|SF||1988||10||6||0||.625||1st in NFC West||3||0||1.000||Super Bowl XXIII champions|
The San Francisco 49ers are a professional American football team based in the San Francisco Bay Area. They compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) West division. The team plays its home games at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, located 38 miles (61 km) southeast of San Francisco in the heart of Silicon Valley. Since 1988, the 49ers have been headquartered in Santa Clara.
Super Bowl XIX was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Miami Dolphins and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion San Francisco 49ers to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1984 season. The 49ers defeated the Dolphins by the score of 38–16, to win their second Super Bowl. The game was played on January 20, 1985, at Stanford Stadium, on the campus of Stanford University in Stanford, California, the first Super Bowl played in the San Francisco Bay Area. This also became the second Super Bowl after Super Bowl XIV where the game was coincidentally played in the home market of one of the participants.
Super Bowl XXIII was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Cincinnati Bengals and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion San Francisco 49ers to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1988 season. The 49ers defeated the Bengals 20–16, winning their third Super Bowl. The game was played on January 22, 1989 at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami. This was the first Super Bowl hosted in the Miami area in 10 years, and the first in Miami not held at the Orange Bowl.
Super Bowl XXIV was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion San Francisco 49ers and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Denver Broncos to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1989 season. The game was played on January 28, 1990, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The 49ers defeated the Broncos by the score of 55–10, winning their second consecutive Super Bowl, and then-tying the Pittsburgh Steelers with four Super Bowl victories. San Francisco also became the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls with two different head coaches; rookie head coach George Seifert took over after Bill Walsh retired following the previous season's Super Bowl.
Joseph Clifford Montana Jr. is an American former professional football player who was a quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) for 16 seasons. Nicknamed "Joe Cool" and "the Comeback Kid", he spent most of his career with the San Francisco 49ers. After winning a national championship at Notre Dame, Montana started his NFL career in 1979 with San Francisco, where he played for the next 14 seasons. While a member of the 49ers, Montana started and won four Super Bowls and was the first player ever to have been named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player three times. He also holds Super Bowl career records for most passes without an interception and the all-time highest passer rating of 127.8. In 1993, Montana was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for his final two seasons, and he led that franchise to its first AFC Championship Game in January 1994. Montana was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
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Dwight Edward Clark was an American football wide receiver and executive. He played nine seasons for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1979 to 1987, which included San Francisco's first two Super Bowl championship teams.
In American football, the West Coast offense is an offense that places a greater emphasis on passing than on running.
James William Plunkett is a former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for sixteen seasons. He achieved his greatest professional success during his final eight seasons with the Raiders franchise, whom he helped win two Super Bowl titles.
Roger Timothy Craig is an American former football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL). He played for the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders and Minnesota Vikings. Craig went to four Pro Bowls and won three Super Bowls with the 49ers. Craig was the first NFL player to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season. Marshall Faulk and Christian McCaffrey are the only other players to have accomplished that feat. He currently works as the VP of Business Development at TIBCO Software.
George Gerald Seifert is an American former football coach and player. He served as the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers and the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). Seifert owned the second-greatest winning percentage in NFL history by a head coach at the time of his resignation as the 49ers head coach, second to Guy Chamberlin.
Michael George Holmgren is a former American football coach and executive. He began his NFL career as a quarterbacks' coach and later as an offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers, where they won Super Bowls XXIII and XXIV. He served as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1992 to 1998, where he won Super Bowl XXXI, and of the Seattle Seahawks from 1999 to 2008. His last role in the NFL was as team president of the Cleveland Browns from 2010 to 2012. Prior to his career in the NFL, Holmgren coached football at the high school and collegiate levels.
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Terrence Michael Donahue is a former American football player, coach, and executive, and is currently a football analyst. He served as the head football coach of the UCLA Bruins from 1976 to 1995, compiling a record of 151–74–8. From 2001 to 2005, Donahue was the general manager for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL). He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2000. Donahue is on the Board of Directors for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is named after Ronnie Lott and is given annually to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. As a general manager in the NFL, he drafted five Pro Bowlers, including three in the third round or later.
Kyle Michael Shanahan is an American football coach who is the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL). He previously served as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins and Houston Texans. With the Falcons in 2016, he coordinated an offense that led the league in points scored and helped the team reach Super Bowl LI. Shanahan was hired as the head coach by the 49ers in 2017, replacing Chip Kelly. In his third season with the team, Shanahan led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl LIV.
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The 1977 Sun Bowl game was a post-season college football bowl game, part of the bowl schedule of the 1977 NCAA Division I football season. Played on Saturday, December 31, it matched the LSU Tigers of the Southeastern Conference and the Stanford Cardinals of the Pacific-8 Conference at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. It was the 44th edition of the Sun Bowl.
The 1993 Blockbuster Bowl game was a post-season college football bowl game between the Stanford Cardinal and the Penn State Nittany Lions played on January 1, 1993, at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. It was the third edition of the bowl game, and a Bowl Coalition game.
| NFL on NBC lead analyst|