One of the better pieces from the Cohn Clan.
One of the components of Walsh's offense was that he was willing to adjust as needed. Now, as we look back to 30 years ago (I can't believe it has been that long), we can say that Walsh "only" did this or that. The temptation is to look rather superficially at Walsh and suggest that today's versions of what he started are much more advanced and therefore better. The fall to that temptation would be a mistake. It would mean the writer really didn't study what Walsh did.
One can tell how much homework a writer has done by how deeply they look at him over the 10 years he really had control of what happened. For example, what Walsh started with Ricky Patton and Lenvil Elliott at RB and Freddie Solomon and Dwight Clark at WR changed a great deal when Wendell Tyler took over at RB and again when Jerry Rice accepted his mantle.
With Tyler, Walsh ran him more from an I-type set than he did previously. Tyler has great cutback ability and as well as quickness so he allowed Walsh to do things a bit differently. That approach stayed on through Roger Craig and Tom Rathman, both of whom added substantial new areas to the role of RB.
On the passing side, Rice just changed the game completely, and Walsh was bright enough to understand the possibilities with him, hence he made the "bold move" (reference another thread
) to move up and grab him. With Rice, Walsh was able to put in new routes and alignments that were not there before.
About the only constant in the Walsh years was Bobb McKittrick as OL coach, and even he added some wrinkles as the seasons went by. One of the things not often mentioned was his planting the seed in Mike Shanahan's head for the stretch blocking schemes that Denver became known for after Shanahan went there. McKittrick never used them much, because he didn't have to, but the quickness and agility he demanded in offensive linemen for the pulls and quick traps to work so well were the same requirements needed for stretch plays to be successful.
It would be fascinating to see what Walsh would be doing today if he were in Jim Harbaugh's shoes. Having watched all those years, it is my opinion Walsh would look back and those early years and say "My, how things have changed from what we ran back then." Because the true genius of Bill Walsh was that he was always looking for new and innovative ways to make the offense more effective and less predictable. Right now I would like to think he is likely looking down at the 3 TE sets Harbaugh is running with all the options and smiling.