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Bill Walsh

Walsh, Bill (William Ernest Walsh), 1931–2007, American football coach, b. Los Angeles. He played football at San Jose State Univ. (B.A. 1955, M.A. 1959) and went into coaching, becoming an assistant college coach at the Univ. of California, Berkeley (1960–62) and Stanford Univ. (1963–65). Coaching in the National Football League as an offensive specialist from 1966, he was an assistant in Oakland, Cincinnati (1968), and San Diego (1976) before returning to Stanford as head coach and leading the team to bowl game wins (1977, 1978). In 1979 he returned to the NFL to coach the then-dismal San Francisco 49ers, where with such players as Joe Montana and later Jerry Rice he perfected a version of the West Coast offense, emphasizing a mix of shorter-range, precision passes to one of at least two possible receivers. The 49ers successful passing game led to three Super Bowl championships in the 1980s. Walsh, whose offense made him the most influential professional football coach of the late 20th cent., retired in 1989 to become a sportscaster, but returned to Stanford as head coach for the 1992–94 seasons. He subsequently held consulting and managerial positions with the 49ers and Stanford until 2006.

See biography by D. Harris (2008).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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