The Blog

Bill Walsh, 1931-2007

A man with a talent for picking talent.

11:00 AM, Aug 1, 2007 • By MAX BOOT
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That was no fluke. In 1987 Walsh acquired Steve Young from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for second and third-round draft choices. Once Montana was no longer at the top of his game, the 49ers were able to offload him to the Kansas City Chiefs and insert another future Hall of Famer behind center.

And then Walsh did it yet again. As the 49ers' general manager in the late 1990s, he signed quarterback Jeff Garcia, an unheralded San Jose State grad playing in the Canadian Football League. Garcia went on to have three Pro Bowl season in San Francisco flinging the pigskin to the talented if flaky Terrell Owens.

Walsh was such a talented architect of championship teams that, after he left the coach's job in 1989, the franchise he put together went on to win two more Super Bowls under the genial but hardly brilliant George Siefert, who never had any head-coaching success after leaving the 49ers. (His record at the Carolina Panthers was 16-32.)

Call me a Philistine if you like, but I'd prefer to watch highlights from the 49ers' glory years, which aren't hard to find on ESPN Classics and the NFL Channel, to one of Ingmar Bergman's interminable, pretentious, and incomprehensible movies.

Max Boot, a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD, is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of War Made New: Weapons, Warriors, and the Making of the Modern World, coming out in paperback from Gotham Books in August.