Wed, Aug 01, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Former 49ers coach Bill Walsh dies of leukemia

AFP , PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA

Former San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh is hoisted on the shoulders of his team after they defeated the Miami Dolphins 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX on Jan. 20, 1985. Walsh died early on Monday at the age of 75.

PHOTO: AP

Bill Walsh, who masterminded three Super Bowl championship seasons for the San Francisco 49ers, died on Monday morning aged 75 after a three-year battle with leukemia.

Stanford University confirmed the death of the Hall of Fame coach who revolutionized the sport with his pass-powered "West Coast offense." He died at home with his family at his side.

Walsh had a record of 102-63 in 10 NFL seasons with the 49ers and was inducted into the US Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

"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," said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

"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 said.

Walsh also worked on improving NFL coaching and executive opportunities for blacks and other ethnic minorities and helped push the league's international growth.

"Bill Walsh was a mentor to me and many others," Goodell said. "He revolutionized the game with his `West Coast Offense' and will always be remembered as one of the most influential people in NFL history."

Walsh assembled a talented squad that included Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott that won a third Super Bowl crown in 1988 before Walsh departed for a television commentary career.

Taking the foundation Walsh built, George Seifert coached the 49ers to two more Super Bowl triumphs.

"Bill's record speaks for itself. He was the top coach in the NFL during his time in San Francisco," Cincinnati Bengals president Mike Brown said.

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