SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Former San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh, who led the National Football League franchise to three Super Bowl victories in the 1980s, died on Monday.
Walsh, an innovative Hall-of-Fame coach and creator of the pass-oriented “West Coast” offense, was 75 years old and had suffered from leukemia. He died at his Woodside, California home with his family by his side, the 49ers statement said.
In 10 seasons as the 49ers’ head coach, Walsh led the team to victories in Super Bowls XVI, XIX and XXIII, securing the 49ers reputation as a storied NFL franchise.
Walsh, a shrewd judge of talent and a brilliant tutor, will be remembered as one of the most influential people in NFL history, said league commissioner Roger Goodell.
“His Hall of Fame coaching accomplishments speak for themselves, but the essence of Bill Walsh was that he was an extraordinary teacher,” Goodell said in a statement. “If you gave him a blackboard and a piece of chalk, he would become a whirlwind of wisdom.”
Walsh revamped the 49ers after taking charge of the team in 1979, turning the struggling franchise into a powerhouse of the 1980s.
Under Walsh, the 49ers drafted quarterback Joe Montana, wide receiver Jerry Rice and safety Ronnie Lott -- all among the greatest players ever to play at their respective positions.
“For me personally, outside of my dad he was probably the most influential person in my life. I am going to miss him,” Montana said in a statement.
Walsh was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. He had an overall record of 102-63-1 with the 49ers and was the NFL Coach of the Year in 1981.
Additional reporting by Daisuke Wakabayashi in Seattle