Mike Shanahan, known in NFL circles as "The Mastermind", never actually got to coach under Bill Walsh. Shanahan did coach under George Siefert in San Francisco for 3 seasons and for Walsh that was close enough. For many of the readers of this site, just because we know the metrics of our readers, Bill Walsh is nothing more than a name, a man that sometimes would be featured on NFL Network, much like Vince Lombardi to my generation. Sure, I know Lombardi is a legend, but I will never truly understand just how great he was. I do understand how great Walsh was because the NFL that my youth was intertwined with was dominated in large part by Walsh, and his creation, a scheme simply known as the West Coast Offense.
If you are a fan of Professional football you should take a moment to pay tribute to Walsh, and offensive pioneer, one of the few remaining men to learn his craft from Paul Brown. As Broncos fans you should spend a few more minutes, learning all you can about the man who's offensive philosophy molded a young coach who would one day lead our beloved Broncos to Back-to-Back Super Bowl victories. Sure, Shanahan might be called the Mastermind, but it was Walsh who was truly the brains behind a short, quick, up-tempo passing attack that required intelligent, accurate quarterbacks, running backs that could block and catch, and receivers that ran routes with military precision. That was what Walsh brought to the 49'ers when they were 2-14, and that is what Walsh used to win 3 Super Bowl Titles in 10 seasons.
His coaching tree might be just as legendary as the man, with names like Mike Holmgren, Andy Reid, Denny Green, Shanahan. The list goes on and on, too long to type - see below.
What Lombardi is to the Packers, Noll to the Steelers, Landry to the Cowboys, Shula to the Dolphins, that is what Bill Walsh is to the San Francisco 49'ers, and mentioning his name with that group, while lofty, indeed, is well deserved.
At the risk of going overboard I will stop now, letting those more capable than me, such as Fooch at Niners Nation pay tributes fitting of the man. What I can do for sure is recognize the impact Bill Walsh had on the National Football League, and specifically the Denver Broncos. For that, I thank you Mr. Walsh. Rest In Peace.
Below is what Shanny had to say about the passing of Bill Walsh --
"I've had a few chances to talk to him a number of times in the last few months, and he's been going through a tough situation. Obviously when you have a great person, a great friend and a Hall of Fame coach pass away, it's always tough. "
On Walsh's effect on others --
"He's a great teacher. I never had the opportunity to actually coach for him, but I was around him a lot. I had a chance to talk to him about a number of different things. I just consider him a good friend. When we played the Raiders, I had a chance to talk to him for about 15 to 20 minutes, and over the last couple of weeks he's been going through a very tough time. He knew it was just a matter of time. Today is a really sad day. He was a great coach and a great teacher. He enjoyed teaching and it didn't matter what level it was. I don't care if he was teaching high school kids or quarterbacks three-to-five step drops, college kids, pro kids, he enjoyed it. He was very good at it, very smart. The best way to describe him is passionate about everything, and that's one of the reasons he was so successful. "
On being a part of his legacy --
"I never coached for him so it's hard, but being part of San Francisco, going in there and studying tapes for 10 years, and being a part of that organization with George Seifert, I feel that I am a part of it because I took a lot of his techniques and utilized them with our system. I've been with him a number of times and talked to him about football, and he's always included me, so I guess that's good."
On his memories of Walsh --
"I have a few memories. When I was a young coach when I was with the Raiders, we won a very close game, (9-3 - Nov. 13, 1988), and after that, the season was so-so, we went on to 6-5, and they were struggling that year. They (the 49ers) went on to win the Super Bowl. Obviously we didn't do very well, but I was a young coach coming in and to actually find a way to win against a coach like Bill Walsh was a dream come true even though the end of the season didn't work out that way. Bill was in the league 10 years but won three Super Bowls and I believe, 10 playoff games in that time."
On Walsh being an innovator --
"There's no question that he's a great innovator. He studied it. He worked at it. He tweaked around with a lot of different things and obviously, when you hear the west coast offense, you're going back to Bill Walsh and he's the one the started it."