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Walsh, whose family moved to the Bay Area when he was a teenager, married his college sweetheart, Geri Nardini, in 1954 and started his coaching career at Washington High School in Fremont, leading the football and swim teams.

He had stints as an assistant at California and Stanford before beginning his pro coaching career as an assistant with the AFL’s Oakland Raiders in 1966, forging a friendship with Al Davis that endured through decades of rivalry. Walsh joined the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968 to work for legendary coach Paul Brown, who gradually gave complete control of the Bengals’ offense to his assistant.

Walsh built a scheme based on the teachings of Davis, Brown and Sid Gillman and Walsh’s own innovations, which included everything from short dropbacks and novel receiving routes to constant repetition of every play in practice.

Though it originated in Cincinnati, it became known many years later as the West Coast offense a name Walsh never liked or repeated, but which eventually grew to encompass his offensive philosophy and the many tweaks added by Holmgren, Shanahan and other coaches.

Much of the NFL eventually ran a version of the West Coast in the 1990s, with its fundamental belief that the passing game can set up an effective running attack, rather than the opposite conventional wisdom.

Walsh also is widely credited with inventing or popularizing many of the modern basics of coaching, from the laminated sheets of plays held by coaches on almost every sideline, to the practice of scripting the first 15 offensive plays of a game.

After a bitter falling-out with Brown in 1976, Walsh left for stints with the San Diego Chargers and Stanford before the 49ers chose him to rebuild the franchise in 1979.

The long-suffering 49ers went 2-14 before Walsh’s arrival. They repeated the record in his first season, with a dismal front-office structure and weak-willed ownership. Walsh doubted his abilities to turn around such a miserable situation but earlier in 1979, the 49ers drafted quarterback Joe Montana from Notre Dame.

Walsh turned over the starting job to Montana in 1980, when the 49ers improved to 6-10 and improbably, San Francisco won its first championship in 1981, just two years after winning two games.

Championships followed in the postseasons of 1984 and 1988 as Walsh built a consistent winner and became an icon with his inventive offense and thinking-man’s approach to the game. He also showed considerable acumen in personnel, adding Ronnie Lott, Charles Haley, Roger Craig and Rice to his rosters after he was named the 49ers’ general manager in 1982 and the president in 1985.

Bill pushed us all to be perfect,” Montana said years later. “That’s all he could handle as a coach, and he taught all of us to be the same way.”

Walsh left the 49ers with a profound case of burnout after his third Super Bowl victory in January 1989, though he later regretted not coaching longer.

He spent three years as a broadcaster with NBC before returning to Stanford for three seasons. He then took charge of the 49ers’ front office in 1999, helping to rebuild the roster over three seasons.

But Walsh gradually cut ties with the 49ers after his hand-picked successor as GM, Terry Donahue, took over in 2001. Walsh was widely thought to be disappointed with John York, DeBartolo’s brother-in-law who seized control of the team in 1998 and presided over the 49ers’ regression to the bottom of the league.

But Walsh stayed active through his posts on various advisory boards, plus writing, lecturing and charity work. He also became more involved at San Jose State, directing a search committee to hire a new athletic director and football coach in 2004, and served in various leadership positions at Stanford.

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