DENVER (AP) - Mike Shanahan remembered Bill Walsh as a good person, great friend, and a tremendous teacher.
Just hours after Walsh died following a long battle with leukemia, the Denver Broncos coach said Walsh made an indelible mark on his career and his life.
"He was a great innovator, and he studied it, he worked at it, he tinkered around with a lot of different things," Shanahan said Monday. "And obviously when you're in the West Coast offense, you're going back to Bill Walsh and he's the one that started it."
Shanahan never directly coached under Walsh, but he is one in a long line of many who can be considered Walsh disciples. He took the West Coast offense, which Walsh perfected, and injected it into his schemes in Oakland and Denver.
It was his time as offensive coordinator in San Francisco when Walsh's legacy had the most immediate impact.
"Being a part of San Francisco and going in there and studying tapes for 10 years of his meetings and being a part of that organization with George Seifert, I feel that I am a part of it because I took a lot of pieces of that offense and utilized them with our system," Shanahan said.
Walsh will be fondly remembered as an innovator and the man who brought the San Francisco 49ers back to relevant status in the 1980s, but it's his skills as a teacher that Shanahan complimented the most.
"It doesn't matter what level it was on ... he enjoyed it," Shanahan said. "He was very good at it, very smart. I guess the best way to describe it is he just had passion for everything he did. And that's one of the reasons he was so successful."
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