Football world has fond memories of Walsh

The football world was talking about Bill Walsh on the day of his death Monday at age 75, and SFI has compiled a collection of far-reaching comments from former and current 49ers players and coaches along with other NFL types and figures from throughout the league

GUY MCINTYRE, currently the team's director of player development, was drafted by Walsh in 1984, became a five-time Pro Bowl offensive guard with 49ers:

It's the loss of not just a football coach, but a great person. Not only was Bill great on the football field, but just understanding people and giving people an opportunity, even when things are going wrong, to right them. It's just a real loss of a great, understanding individual. He did so much for the game, not just on the field, but also the emotion and love that he had for his players. He wanted to do everything for his players that he possibly could do, especially when the game was over for them. He always had an open door and wanted to help guys, especially after the game was over, because he knew how hard the transition was.

He was a master, especially with the speeches he gave us. He was serious about them, but he knew how to deliver it in a way that people would be receptive of it. He knew how to make us smile and he knew how to break the ice. The things that he did, the plans that he laid and just the way he went about systematically unfolding it, was just genius. The way he did it year in and year out, delivering the same message at the same time but with a different twist … I was just lucky to be a part of that all that. It wouldn't have been anything without him, the way he laid everything out.

He had great timing with his sense of humor. He could be serious and then crack a joke in the middle of being serious. He knew how to make guys laugh and make them respond. He had compassion for people and the guys that played for him. I've never been around a coach that had as much compassion and care for all the players who played for him.

MIKE SHUMANN, played receiver for Walsh in 1979 and 1981, now an broadcaster for ABC in San Francisco:

His sense of humor would just set him apart from anything else. I played with Don Shula, John McKay and Bill Walsh, and Bill just knew how to break something down. It could be really tense and he would just come up with something.

He'd think outside the box and have that willingness to be innovative. The National Football League had been doing the same thing for four decades, and then here comes this guy, instead of stretching it vertically we're going horizontal. I remember running a shuffle-cross (route) and linebackers were like, ‘Where did he come from.' They had just never seen anything like it, and it's probably why we won that first Super Bowl.

He was innovative, compassionate and concerned about you. Always the teacher. Even when I got out (of football), he'd watch me on TV and call me and give me pointers. He was still teaching and coaching even after the fact. He wanted us to be successful on the field and our careers afterwards. Because back then, football was a stepping stone to the rest of your life. We weren't set financially. I got closer to him as a broadcaster over the years. He was just a special man. I'm from back East, and he was like a surrogate father to me on the West Coast.

STEVE MARIUCCI, 49ers head coach from 1997-2002 who is at 49ers headquarters to do a telecast on 49ers training camp with the NFL Network:

We knew this day was coming, but every time we spoke to Bill, he was always upbeat and always optimistic and didn't want to talk much about it, just wanted to talk about football, family, the season coming up and different things. So when it all happened today, it was still a shock to all of us. As you know, he's meant so much to so many people. We're going to miss him. He's given us so much, more than just X's and O's, and there's so many people that have been influenced by his knowledge and experience and wisdom. It's a tough day for 49erland here.

He was a mentor, obviously, to me as well as everybody else. I was fortunate enough to work with him and learn from him, and take notes from him like he was a professor. And I would latch on to everything he would say. It was so great to have him here when I was here. He was such a wealth of knowledge and a fun guy to be around.

Boy, he's going to be missed by the football community. He had an influence on other coaches, too. Not just football, it exceeded that far beyond football. Other coaches asked how to train players, and have an organization that is a single purpose. Other sports emulate that as well.

He drafted well. He certainly had an eye for talent. And he would fit the pieces of the puzzle together very well. Not everybody was a superstar. Not everybody was a leader. There was some role players that he knew were very important to his team, some guys that added some chemistry to a team. So he was very good at putting those kinds of teams together and those kinds of coaching staffs together.

He was always fun to be around. He was always good at giving you some advice that you would really consider and if you didn't use his information today, it might be next week, or it might be next year. But you'd take it to heart at some point. He had a real knack for keeping relationships going. He was always in your corner.


There is not a player at the 49ers or a player in the NFL today that was not touched by the contributions of the legendary Bill Walsh. Without a doubt, Bill Walsh is clearly one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. His achievements during his 10 years as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers are virtually unparalleled in professional sports.

While he will go down in history as one of the greatest and most innovative football minds of all time, we also will always cherish the close connection we had between our families that developed over the past three decades of our lives. It is with great sadness that we offer our condolences and prayers to Geri and the Walsh family.

Outside of his family and faith, there was nothing he loved more than the 49ers. Even after he left the organization he still kept up with the team and offered his support.

Bill exemplified class, and all of us in sports should honor him by striving to perpetuate his standard of excellence.


Bill Walsh's legacy with the 49ers is well documented. The 49ers remained his team even after he left the organization. He dedicated his life to football and all 49ers fans, current and past, are forever grateful.

I will miss my weekly talks with Bill each Monday following our games. He was always so supportive and always offered some thoughts to help me in any way he could.

He was not only an outstanding coach but a tremendous role model for every one associated with the 49ers and our fans.

Although I never worked for Bill, I always considered him a mentor during my 21 years in the NFL. He not only made a legendary impact on the game of football, but he was also instrumental in issues such as diversity in the NFL and in developing player assistance programs.

My wife and I offer our heartfelt condolences to the Walsh family in honor of this great man.


His Hall of Fame coaching accomplishments speak for themselves, but the essence of Bill Walsh was that he was an extraordinary teacher. If you gave him a blackboard and a piece of chalk, he would become a whirlwind of wisdom. He taught all of us not only about football but also about life and how it takes teamwork for any of us to succeed as individuals. He helped the league on many important initiatives, from improving opportunities for minorities in coaching and the front office to our executive training and international development programs. Bill Walsh was a mentor to me and many others. He revolutionized the game with his ‘West Coast Offense' and will always be remembered as one of the most influential people in NFL history.


This is just a tremendous loss for all of us, especially to the Bay Area because of what he meant to the 49ers. For me personally, outside of my dad he was probably the most influential person in my life. I am going to miss him.


Bill Walsh is the greatest coach to stimulate the minds of his players and those he touched. it was the greatness of his x's and o's, but what made bill unique was his ability to bring together different people and unite them for a common goal.


Bill Walsh's skills, leadership and amazing wit helped change the direction and style of America's greatest sport. His various contributions became a major ingredient in the catalyst that unified our Nation's most diverse and unique community at a time when it needed it most. He loved San Francisco and the Bay Area enthusiastically returned the affection.


What really made Bill special is that he understood that the game was bigger than him. His genius was not centered around Xs and Os, it was centered around his ability to create a platform that made the game inclusive to others. He will forever be cemented with the likes of George Halas, Paul Brown and Vince Lombardi as the best ever.


Bill was blessed with one of the greatest gifts you can have which is the ability to see the future potential of another human being. It just so happened that football was his expertise. He saw in me much more than I ever saw in myself well before I ever had a chance to understand it. That is the ultimate compliment to the word coach. There's nothing more a coach should be than to see the full potential of a player unfolded. I am eternally grateful to Bill Walsh.


Bill Walsh embodied everything that so many of us love about the game of football - his intellect, his aggressive and brilliant game strategies, quarterback development, risk taking, and franchise-building ideas. And the way he coolly executed them is deservedly legendary. His passion for the game was contagious. All of us who had the fortune to spend significant time with Bill and sought his willing guidance will surely cherish every moment spent with this very special man.

ATLANTA FALCONS PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER RICH MCKAY: All of us who are fans of the game owe a huge debt of gratitude to Bill Walsh. Many have contributed to the game, but few impacted it to the extent that Bill did. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Coach Walsh and his family.


I was saddened by the news of the passing of Bill Walsh. He was one of our fiercest rivals, and we had some very memorable games in the ‘80s. He was an innovative guy who brought his philosophy to the NFL, and he integrated the right people into it and allowed it to flourish. He is one of the very few people who really helped make the NFL what it is today, and his coaching tree is evidence of that.


Bill Walsh was one of the greatest coaches in the history of this game. I am not sure that anyone has had as much influence on the way the game has been played over the past 25 years as Bill Walsh. His record on the field was matched only by his brilliance in developing other successful NFL and college coaches.

BALTIMORE RAVENS COACH BRIAN BILLICK, who once worked with Walsh and the 49ers:

In the recent or modern history of the NFL, no coach has been more influential and innovative than Bill Walsh. That includes his coaching on the field and his thoughts and action on how franchises can work together to win championships. His influence is especially seen on the offensive side of the ball. We should call what many teams currently run exactly what it is - the ‘Walshian Offense.' His mark on the NFL is also seen by the ‘Walsh Tree.' He doesn't get enough credit for the work he did behind the scenes to advance his assistants. He was tireless in promoting his fellow coaches. Like others, I could never repay him for how he helped me. The best we can all do to salute Coach Walsh is to do the same for our fellow coaches.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS HEAD COACH MIKE HOLMGREN, who coached with Walsh and the 49ers:

For me personally, he gave me my chance to coach in the NFL. He took a chance on me. I was four years removed from high school and that usually doesn't work that way. He was hard on me and I was mad at him a fair amount as an assistant coach. Looking back on it now, he was my mentor and then later in the years he became my friend. I said this and I meant it, I always thought; when I was an assistant coach for him and he was working and having us do stuff that he looked at the game differently as a coach, he just looked at how to put everything together and how to do it differently. The minority intern program is in place because of Bill. He had a heart for minority coaches and he wanted to make sure they had a chance. Ty Willingham was our first minority coach in San Francisco years ago, the first year the program was in place. A lot of us worked for him and had a chance to go on and continue to coach in the league. We took a lot of what he did with us. I am glad I had a chance to visit with him recently.

I always said that he was an artist and all the rest of us were blacksmiths pounding the anvil, while he was painting the picture. There is always more than one way to win games but that was how he chose to do it.


He was very instrumental in my career from day one as a football player. He gave me my opportunity in coaching. I had the chance to play for him for a year and after that year he gave me my opportunity to coach in this league. From day one he molded my career and helped me out tremendously. When you talk about the things he would do for his coaches, not only did he show you the on-the-field part of the game but off-the-field part of the game as far as scouting, dealing with player contracts, just all aspects of football he was willing to share with all of his coaches. For a young coach like myself I can't say enough things about him. He pushed you, he pushed you to be the best person you could be, the best coach you could be. He always had people setting their goals and their standards high in every phase of what they did in football. He pushed me to the point to where, just like he pushed his players, in reference to be the best player you could be. You want to be the best defensive back coach in the league and you have to strive for that with hard work. You want to have the best group, you want to be known as the best guy coaching that position. He pushed each one of his coaches to the ultimate limit and he stayed on you about it. He was a mentor to me. I can't say enough good things he did for me and my family.


He meant a lot to me. He drafted me back in 2000 and he told me I was going to be the key to the defense. From right then and there when he said that I just took that as motivation that he thought a lot about me. For him saying that and entrusting that much in to me, I just took it and ran with it and always had the mentality to stay on top of my game. I bought a chain with a key on it just to remind me I'm the key of the defense and to continue to work hard and be focused. I had one of the greatest coaches of all time saying I was going to be the key, that was big to me. Most coaches won't say that to a rookie. He showed that faith in me and I went out there and showed my talents. He said I knew you were going to pan out the way you are. That meant a lot to me.

I know he was a big inspiration to Jeff Garcia. A lot of people didn't believe in Jeff Garcia and he brought him in the mix and said he was going to be a good West Coast quarterback. Look at Garcia now, a couple of Pro Bowls and you saw what he did last year. He knows talent and knows how to evaluate talent and get the best out of his players.


I was with Bill Walsh for a long time, and to think that a lot of us had played for him and worked under him we knew that he cared for the people that worked under him. He changed a lot of lives for a lot of people. He gave a lot of people opportunities to succeed and he stood behind the people that worked under him, you could count on that. He's going to be missed. Over the years, I usually talked to him about once a month and he always had a last word of advice. He was like a dad to me. It's a shame he had leukemia and I wish there was a cure for it. Not only for Bill Walsh, but for a lot of people.


Great, great football coach and football mind. Much, much better human being. He has helped so many young players, so many people in general in his professional lifetime. The world is a better place because of Bill Walsh being in it. I've coached against him and I've coached with him and he has helped me in my professional life and I couldn't think more of him. I admire the man and I admire what he stood for and I admire what he did.


The life of a champion has physically come to an end, but the legacy of the man will live on forever. So many times Coach Walsh used boxing analogies, and in his own life he was a fighter all the way to the end.

There are so many people that are thankful that their lives have been touched by the man who is Bill Walsh. I am one of them. He believed in me when not many others did; he was willing to put his reputation on the line in order to give me an opportunity. I always respected and appreciated that and never did I want to fail him. Several times I went to him at moments of change in my career and asked for and leaned on his advice. Even at a time of struggle in his own life, he made time for me. He gave me advice like a father would give to his son and I know that I am not the only one he did that for.

He touched people's lives, he made people smile. He had an element of surprise about him - you never knew what he was going to say but he had your attention. I love that man like so many others do and I will miss him.

I thank you Bill for your guidance and belief in me, but more so than that, I thank you for your friendship. I love you and I thank you.

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