SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -At NFL training camps around the country, Bill Walsh was remembered for his keen eye for talent and innovative approach to offense.
Walsh died at his Woodside home Monday morning following a long battle with leukemia. He was 75.
"He took a chance on me. I was four years removed from a high school coach. It usually doesn't work that way," Holmgren said before receiving word of Walsh's death.
"He looked at how to put everything together and how to do it differently. I always said he was an artist and the rest of us were blacksmiths pounding the anvil while he was painting the picture."
"The offensive philosophy he installed in those great 49ers teams more than 25 years ago will remain his legacy and is still very much a part of the NFL to this day," said Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history.
Fellow Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy was hired to coach California in 1960 and happened upon Walsh when he was putting together his staff. Levy spoke to a coach at San Jose State, who recommended Walsh, then head coach at Fremont's Washington High School.
Levy, 81, who would later go on to become the winningest coach in Buffalo Bills history, hired Walsh to be Cal's freshmen coach.
"I couldn't predict 'Oh, he's going to be in the Hall of Fame someday.' But I could see right away how bright he was," said Levy, remembering his first interview with Walsh. "I just sensed that this guy is uniquely bright."
"His presence put pressure on you," Rathman said. "I mean, when he walked out of that locker room, it was all about football, getting your minds right. But that's just the personality he had and the impact he had on a team."
"I don't know that when it counted we ever beat them out there," Gibbs said. "That's where we really got hurt. I think we would have been to another two or three Super Bowls if we could have got through the 49ers at their place, and whenever they had home field advantage it didn't seem we could get it done out there."
"I will miss my weekly talks with Bill each Monday following our games. He was always so supportive and always offered some thoughts to help me in any way he could," Nolan said. "He was not only an outstanding coach but a tremendous role model for every one associated with the 49ers and our fans."
Associated Press writers Josh Dubow in Napa, Calif., Joseph White in Washington, D.C. and John Wawrow in Buffalo, N.Y. contributed to this report.