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Adding Walsh to 49er Mix Could Stir Up Big Trouble

January 24, 1996|BILL PLASCHKE

Tell us the San Francisco 49ers didn't just do what we think they did.

Tell us they didn't just hire Brutus to work with Caesar.

"My role, primarily, will be assistant football coach," said Bill Walsh on Tuesday after he was named an administrative aide who will work with the offense.

And George Seifert's role, primarily, will now be Vice President In Charge of Gaping Back Wounds.

Tell us the 49ers didn't just hoist their former coaching great from a couch and ask him to run the offense for their current coaching great.

While probably sitting in the press box.

While probably calling most of the plays.

While eventually--knowing Walsh's penchant for control--making third-grade faces at every Seifert mistake.

We can already hear the end of their first conversation over the headsets next July.

"Am not."

"Am too."

Tell us the 49ers didn't just inject 50cc of locker room poison into professional football's most sound nervous system.

Tell us they didn't just become the Dallas Cowboys.

"I only had one doubt about this decision," 49er President Carmen Policy said after the stunning announcement. "That was five minutes before this press conference, when I walked into my office and found Bill in my chair with his feet on my desk."

Bad humor. Gads. They are the Dallas Cowboys.

It wasn't that a move was unexpected. Noggins always fall when the only team with five Super Bowl rings stumbles.

Owner Eddie DeBartolo giveth lavish parties and perks. But Eddie D. also taketh away when the team does not appear grateful.

His price is always the same.

Self respect.

Just ask Walsh who, in 1987, while still coaching, was stripped of his title as team president after the team failed to make the playoffs.

They haven't failed to collect at least one postseason check every year since. But after finishing this season with two consecutive defeats, including a surprising loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC semifinals, something was bound to happen.

Call us silly, but we thought that something would involve a running back for a 23rd-ranked rushing offense.

Not a new coach for an overall offense that scored more points than anybody.

And certainly not a coach who won three Super Bowls with the 49ers . . . but has not been involved as an NFL schemer in seven years.

Tell us the 49ers didn't just hire Son of Switzer.

His job will be to work with Marc Trestman, the hopelessly lost offensive coordinator. When Trestman sometimes left the 49ers waiting on the field for him to call a play, Seifert would interject. Unfortunately, Seifert is not an offensive genius either.

So Walsh is now the new buffer.

But Seifert, with two Super Bowl victories in seven years, is still head coach, and still being forced to tote DeBartolo's dirty shorts.

It is a shameful job for a proud and sincere man, with the best winning percentage among active head coaches.

When the 49ers wanted to make the public believe they really didn't want to trade Joe Montana in the spring of 1993, they forced Seifert to name him as designated starter even though it cost Seifert gads of credibility with quarterback Steve Young and the team.

Now, they are making Seifert say this:

"In fact, it's probably one of the more exciting, happy times for me since I've been a coach here."

You knew Seifert was fibbing by his wardrobe. The sweater and hanging eyeglasses were replaced by a suit and tie. We bet he was even wearing socks.

With Bill Walsh around, he better be fitted with boots.

Walsh, 64, who toiled unfulfilled in television and as Stanford's coach during his NFL absence, claimed there are no ulterior motives.

"What this portrays is a stage of life I'm in right now," he said. "I don't have an agenda and I'm not looking to stake out any territory and I'm not looking to make key decisions."

As if it matters what he thinks. Like, if the 49ers lose a couple of games by Halloween, the rumors won't be flying about his eventual move to the head coach's office.

Rumors that will shake the floor under Seifert.

The sorts of rumors that Walsh used to work so hard to eliminate.

Tell us the 49er players won't be asking: Who's the boss?

"If George wants something one way, and Bill wants it another way . . . who wins?" asked Fred Smerlas, a retired 14-year veteran defensive lineman and former 49er. "What the 49ers have done seems to undermine everything that is happening there."

Walsh is a true football genius who can still probably bring success to 29 teams in this league.

On Tuesday he rejoined the one team he could cause to fail.

Tell us Bill Walsh shouldn't have known better.

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