Players, fans pay tribute to former 49ers coach Bill Walsh Print
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Friday, 10 August 2007 12:49
NFL Headline News

 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -A grateful city said goodbye to Bill Walsh on Friday by making sure his name will stay forever linked to the field at Candlestick Park.
Hundreds gathered there to celebrate Walsh, who died of leukemia on July 30 at 75. Friday's service included a gospel choir singing ``Amazing Graze'' and a video recounting Walsh's achievements.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom told the crowd Friday the field at Monster Park would be named after Bill Walsh although the name of the stadium won't change.
``He shared his action, he shared his passion, and he made our lives better,'' Newsom said.
Several of the players key to Walsh's three Super Bowl championships with San Francisco - Jerry Rice, Steve Young and Joe Montana - attended the event.
``He helped us climb the mountain to the championship,'' Young, said. ``He made us all feel like champions.''
Walsh revolutionized many aspects of the game, most notably by deploying a system of short, precise passes, during a decade as the team's coach. He won 10 of his 14 postseason games and ended with a record of 102-63-1.
His 1981 team won the city's first Super Bowl and produced one of the most memorable moments in NFL history when Dwight Clark leapt high into the air at Candlestick to snare a high pass from Montana for a touchdown with 51 seconds the NFC Championship game.
The 49ers went on to beat Cincinnati in the Super Bowl.
``He built the dynasty that all of us fans got to enjoy,'' said Dante Stevens, 43, who wore a 49ers jersey and took a day off from work as a chef to attend the memorial.
Stevens said Walsh was gifted at spotting talented players.
``It's hard to say whether any other coach will top this guy,'' said Mike Lopez, 49, who drove from San Jose for the event.
Other speakers at Friday's memorial service recalled how Walsh and the 49ers uplifted the city during turbulent times.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein said San Francisco was reeling from the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the emerging HIV epidemic, and the massacre of roughly 900 Californians in Jonestown.
She recalled watching Montana's famous pass to Dwight Clark to win the 1981 NFC Championship Game.
``What that meant for this city to win something, to do something right,'' Feinstein said.
Montana said before his death, Walsh asked him to tell the players how much he loved them.
``But I don't think he knows how much we loved him,'' Montana said. ``On behalf of all the players, Coach: We love you and are going to miss you.''
 

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