For the debut posting on this site, I thought I’d go back to the beginning. Not to the very start of the 49ers franchise in 1946, but to the hiring of Bill Walsh to coach San Francisco on January 9, 1979. The next day, the San Francisco Chronicle covered the hiring and introduced Walsh as a man who “believes in an offensive philosophy that is as wide open as the Mojave desert.” Walsh was named head of football operations, but at the time the 49ers planned to hire someone else to serve as general manager. Eddie DeBartolo had announced plans to give Joe Thomas, the former general manager, a four-year contract extension, through 1986, in the middle of the 1978 season, then fired him as Walsh came in to coach. The 49er coaches in 1978 were Fred O’Connor, who went 1-6, and Pete McCulley, who went 1-8.
Bill ended his term as coach at Stanford by beating Georgia in the Bluebonnet Bowl on the last day of 1978, although technically his last act as coach was to give a lecture on “Controlling the Ball with the Passing Game” in downtown San Francisco to other college coaches about two hours before the press conference to announce his hiring. Probably the best sign of the change that was going to come to the 49ers was this line in the Chronicle: “No more will San Francisco open with a handoff to the fullback.”