Head Coach Bill Walsh Nearly Quits After Loss to Dolphins
Former 49ers head coach Bill Walsh is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the history of the NFL and was nicknamed “The Genius” for his development of the West Coast Offense, a precise, timing-based passing offense.
In his second year as head coach, Bill Walsh and his 49ers traveled to the Orange Bowl to play the defending AFC East Champion Miami Dolphins led by coach Don Shula. The 49ers had begun the season 3-0 but lost seven straight to find themselves reeling in the midst of a losing streak. Walsh knew that another loss could mean his job.
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In his book, The Score Takes Care of Itself, Walsh explained the effects of the game saying “The game itself-played in suffocating Florida heat and humidity-turned into a bruising battle in front of over seventy-five thousand screaming Dolphins fans who had packed themselves into the stadium. For the 49ers it was like going to a wild party to which you are uninvited and unwelcome-everybody tries to throw you out the window.”
After late-game penalties and a referee’s ball spot that Walsh called “so friendly it could have gotten him elected to local public office” the 49ers had lost 17-13 and the losing streak extended to eight games.
On the plane ride home, Walsh describes himself sobbing uncontrollably while his assistants blocked any players from seeing the breakdown. At one point, he claims to have convinced himself to resign. After working his entire career to become a head coach, he wasn’t sure if he could succeed.
Fortunately, Walsh didn’t quit and the 49ers were Super Bowl champions just 16 months later. The 49ers history was rewritten through Bill Walsh’s faith in himself. The game against Miami nearly ended the tenure of The Genius.
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