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Bill Walsh and the "Fast Start"

  • ace52
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 303
I remember reading somewhere that Bill Walsh had this philosophy of always trying to get out to a fast start in games by trying to get 2 scores in the first 2 possessions. The idea was to put the opponent in a 10-0 or 14-0 hole right off the bat and force them to be a little desperate in their offensive play-calling, then come at them with defensive pressure to try to get them to make mistakes. I think this was one of the reasons that Walsh always scripted the first 15 offensive plays, which are probably plays that would give the team the best chance to get this early lead.

With the slow starts that the current 49ers team has gotten out to in the last few games, it made me wonder if this philosophy is still being followed by the current coaches. Jim even elected to give the other team the ball first in some cases. To me, this goes against Walsh's philosophy of trying to jump out ahead of the opponent, and I'm not sure if this is a good approach, especially in playoff games.
no team/coaching staff in the history of the NFL says "meh, don't really care about the first few drives. we'll play a field position game!". EVERY team tries to score on every possession. walsh may have been saying it can really kill a team early if you can manage to get up early but i don't see how you "design" to score on the first couple drives and then don't design to score on the rest. makes no sense
Get the ball to start the second half..is my philosophy
From what I know, Walsh's defense was set up to prevent big plays. Look at that Super Bowl against Dan Marino's Dolphins. he ran a nickel that entire game, just begging Marino to throw it.
Not to be too cheeky, but every coach in every game wants to get an early lead...that's sorta the point. As to Walsh scripting plays, of course scoring points was the overall goal, but it was also done to purposely ignore situational play-calling and to also see how a defense reacted to certain formations/plays. And he used to script the first 25 plays.

As for Harbaugh usually deferring, I like it....ideally get the D on the field to get a 3-and-out and set the tone. Of course it doesn't always work, but more often than not it does. Plus it's always nice to have in your back pocket that you get the ball first to start the 2nd half. If you're up, it's a chance to extend the lead, but if you're losing, as was the case last week, it gives you that opportunity to close the gap/take the lead and establish Mighty Mo'.
Come on Ace. Bill Walsh was an amazing coach but I dont think he was revolutionary in trying to score points on first quarter drives. Back then, you couldnt defer the kick off so the team always took the ball when they won the flip. Now, it makes more sense to get the ball in the second half. Just think how important that was in the Atlanta game for the Niners to get the ball down 24-14.
that didnt work too well for the falcons.
Originally posted by susweel:
that didnt work too well for the falcons.

LOL it sure didn't!

My only hope is that we don't have to comeback from a 17 point deficit again. We're capable of doing that, but it will be a lot harder to comeback esp against a much better defense in the Ravens. Need to go out, take the lead, contain Rice, and let Flacco try to beat us with his arm. If we can do that and control the TOP, I don't see any reason why we shouldn't win.
  • ace52
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 303
Originally posted by Ninerjohn:
Come on Ace. Bill Walsh was an amazing coach but I dont think he was revolutionary in trying to score points on first quarter drives. Back then, you couldnt defer the kick off so the team always took the ball when they won the flip. Now, it makes more sense to get the ball in the second half. Just think how important that was in the Atlanta game for the Niners to get the ball down 24-14.
With the 49ers D being so good, I can see the reasoning behind putting them on the field first to start the game. The flip side of the coin is if the D doesn't perform up to their usual standard for whatever reason (time zone difference, whatever), then we are in the hole early. And if the opponent has a good D themselves, that may not be a good idea.
Also, what about forcing the opponent to play catch-up instead of having to catch up to them? I know which scenario I would prefer.
Deferring when on the road seems to make the most sense. Crowds are much quieter at the start of the second half - people still in the bathroom line, finishing cigarettes, etc. And they've all just eaten and drank (or they have plates of food in their laps and full cups in their hands), they're going to be a bit sedate for a few minutes.

The Georgia dome sounded noticeably quieter at the start of the 3rd, at least on TV. And you could see many empty seats. Couple that with the offensive adjustments being fresh in everyone's minds. It's not a huge edge, but all in all it's an edge. And small edges add up.
Originally posted by susweel:
that didnt work too well for the falcons.

It didn't..which speaks to the talent and mindset of our players...with that said, don't expect that to happen all the time...coming back is an uphill process. I think we really were THAT much better than them but they played a "perfect" first quarter.
Originally posted by johnnyredneat:
Deferring when on the road seems to make the most sense. Crowds are much quieter at the start of the second half - people still in the bathroom line, finishing cigarettes, etc. And they've all just eaten and drank (or they have plates of food in their laps and full cups in their hands), they're going to be a bit sedate for a few minutes.

The Georgia dome sounded noticeably quieter at the start of the 3rd, at least on TV. And you could see many empty seats. Couple that with the offensive adjustments being fresh in everyone's minds. It's not a huge edge, but all in all it's an edge. And small edges add up.

Great point! An edge is an edge and on the road you take any edge you can get.
  • ace52
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 303
Originally posted by Jakemall:
It didn't..which speaks to the talent and mindset of our players...with that said, don't expect that to happen all the time...coming back is an uphill process. I think we really were THAT much better than them but they played a "perfect" first quarter.
I was really amazed that we were able to come back from a 17-0 deficit. I think this game, more than any other, convinced me that we have finally found our franchise QB in Colin. To be down by that much on the road, in a game as big as the NFC Championship game, and be able to maintain your poise and guide the team all the way back to take the lead, is the stuff that I used to think only #16 can do.
Beat em to the punch!
Originally posted by 49AllTheTime:
Get the ball to start the second half..is my philosophy

Especially on the road.