San Francisco 49ers: 5 most heartbreaking moments in franchise history
No. 3: Bill Walsh is one of, if not THE greatest coach in NFL history, and though he distanced himself from the 49ers years before he passed, it’s still one of the most somber moments in team history
Head coach Bill Walsh won over 100 regular-season and playoff games. He lifted the Lombardi trophy three-times. And was AP Coach of the Year in 1981.
With all the success attached to his name, it’s hard to believe he wasn’t given a head coaching gig earlier in his career. If it wasn’t for former owner Eddie DeBartolo sticking to his guns after the team didn’t get legendary coach Don Shula, Walsh might’ve never been a 49er.
"But Edward Sr. Had checked with several people in the league. And he was getting feedback from Paul Brown (Cincinnati’s owner), Joe Robbie (Miami’s owner), and others, including the Nordstroms (Seattle Seahawks owners), and the word was that Bill Walsh was not emotionally though enough to handle it and that he had some other demons. Former 49ers Vice President Carmen Policy Quote from When the 49ers were Kings by Gordon Forbes"
Walsh was overlooked numerous times, including by San Francisco. His former boss and fellow coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, Paul Brown, never gave Walsh the chance to move up in the coaching system.
Luckily, the meeting between DeBartolo and Walsh was a success and a dynasty was brewing. The same year Walsh became coach of the 49ers, they drafted Joe Montana and wide receiver Dwight Clark.
After Walsh left the organization he began to distance himself. A change of ownership made him make the move. A few years later he went back to Stanford to be the head coach. After his coaching career Walsh was diagnosed with leukemia.
He knew the end was near and called many former players to tell them he loved them. He was a very detailed man. He planned his funeral including who was going to speak. And on a summer day in July 2007, the greatest coach to ever walk the sidelines passed away.
Many people attended the ceremony. Fans, friends, family, former teammates, opponents, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made an appearance. Joe Montana and Steve Young were just a couple of hand-picked people to speak. Again, Walsh planned these months.
There may be coaches who pass his records and win more Super Bowls than he did, but there will only be one Bill Walsh. And the city of San Francisco was blessed with his presence.