Bill Walsh got his first job as a head coach in the pros at the age of 47 in 1979 when the San Francisco 49ers named him head coach and general manager. The 49ers had won just 31 of their last 86 games and were 2-14 in 1978.
But Walsh was up to the challenge and in just three years provided the 49ers with their first-ever National Football League championship with a 26-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI. It was the first of a great string of successes for Walsh.
In his 10 seasons as head coach of the 49ers, Walsh compiled an impressive 102-63-1 mark that included 10 wins in 14 postseason games. Under Walsh, the 49ers won six NFC Western Division championships and NFC titles in 1981, 1984, and 1988. Those NFC titles were followed with victories in Super Bowls XVI, XIX, and XXIII which made the 49ers, by every measurement, the NFL team of the 1980s.
In seven of Walsh's last eight seasons, the 49ers won 10 or more games and appeared in the NFC playoffs. The 49ers advanced to the NFC title game against the Washington Redskins in 1983 and to the first playoff round in 1985, 1986, and 1987. Walsh was named the NFL Coach of the Year in 1981 and and NFC Coach of the Year in 1984.
Bill began his pro coaching career as an assistant with the Oakland Raiders in 1966. He then served with the Cincinnati Bengals from 1968 to 1975 and the San Diego Chargers In 1976. While he was still an assistant coach, Walsh developed the reputation for being a superb offensive coach who specialized in the passing game. He is credited with shaping Ken Anderson of the Bengals, Dan Fouts of the Chargers and Joe Montana of the 49ers into outstanding quarterbacks.