There are probably many younger fans out there that look at the coaching career of Bill Walsh the way I look at those of Vince Lombardi, Chuck Knoll or John Madden. You can look at the stats or the film of a old player or a team and get a sense of how good they might have been, but you can’t really sense the greatness of a coach just by looking at his record or stack of Super Bowls.
Bill Walsh reinvented the game of football. At a time when teams subscribed to either a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust running game or a “vertical” passing attack, Walsh created a hybrid that has become the way football is played today. Call it the West Coast or whatever, but the game is manifested with much more athleticism and creativity today, and that’s all due to the football genius of Walsh.
As Bronco fans, almost everything we see our team do is directly attributable to what Walsh created and installed for the 49ers. The practice regimen, the offensive script, and the overall game plan come straight from the Niners’ system. Sure, Alex Gibbs’ zone blocking schemes have added more of a rushing sledgehammer to the mix. And Mike Shanahan has allowed strong-armed QBs John Elway and Jay Cutler to throw deep much more than Walsh did with the more modest guns of Joe Montana and Steve Young. But Bill Walsh’s fingerprints are all over this franchise’s success, and he will be missed.