OK, I have to say something about this, cause I have some knowledge that I can contribute to the conversation due to my work with the league.
This whole "Walsh-tapes" issue began with Steve Young. Steve Young went on record multiple times stating that there was a "vault of tapes" Bill Walsh had recorded that have the roots of the west coast offense on them.
Now, you might be wondering... what exactly ARE on the tapes? Like, when you put them in the VCR, what do you see?
In essence, the tapes show Bill Walsh either at a blackboard or overhead projector teaching plays to the 49ers. The camera is at the back of the room, with just Walsh and a few floating heads in the foreground watching him draw up wisdom.
Now, I know that NFL Films has a lot of footage of Bill Walsh drawing up plays from back in the day fitting the description above. How organized is it? I'm not sure, but from what I know my guess is that the footage would be pretty disordered. How much footage is there? A good amount, but I don't know how much. Would NFL Films give copies of this footage to the 49ers if they requested it? I really don't see any reason why not. I'm sure they'd be more than happy to help.
From where I stand, this whole tape-issue seems like a joke to me. The tapes that NFL Films have have been digitized. This means they exist not only as physical media, but as digitized media for distribution means as well. This means the footage has potentially passed in-and-out of the hands of a tremendous amount of people. There's not many secret plays from Bill Walsh that haven't been seen already by numerous parties. You can watch some of the old 49ers' AMERICA'S GAMES to see some of the footage that people have been talking about.
This is the reason I wonder what all the fuss is about. I'm not sure there are any amazing, world-changing things to be learned from these missing tapes. Sure, NFL Films has some of the original footage, but who knows who those tapes were originally donated from. Eddie DeBartolo? Mike Holmgren? George Siefert? An anonymous third-party?
How many tapes were there originally in the vault? No one knows.
All I'm saying is that even if the 49ers recover some of what they think is missing, my guess is that what they will get back won't be that important anyway. They will still be missing tapes from people who don't want to give them back. It's kind of a wild goose chase at this point.
But Steve Young made it sound REALLY interesting... which is why we are still talking about it now. And IMO, Steve may not have had all the information, because apparently, that Walsh-tape-vault is kinda empty (just going by what Harbaugh said). And finding those phantom tapes seems like a waste of time from where I stand.
But whatever. Maybe Mike Holmgren will Fed-Ex out some DVD's next week. But even if he does, you know he'll keep the best stuff to himself.
[ Edited by NickSh49 on Feb 18, 2011 at 4:44 PM ]