49ers alternate history: Bill Walsh to the Seahawks?

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh once had a chance to become the Seahawks first head coach when they were an expansion team. Imagine that alternate history?

Mike Sando posted an interesting link yesterday that brought up a potential alternate history, which I don't think any of us would want to consider. Aaron got it posted in the Golden Nuggets, but I thought it was interesting enough to pull out on its own.

The News Tribune put together a look back at the Seattle Seahawks first owner, John Nordstrom. It featured an intriguing little nugget about the Seahawks and 49ers head coach Bill Walsh.

The Nordstrom family owned the team and they hired John Thompson as general manager. When the Seahawks began their first coaching search, the original face of ownership, Lloyd Nordstrom was a fan of a Cincinnati Bengals assistant by the name of Bill Walsh. He went to Cincinnati to speak with Walsh, and this happened:

"Lloyd got on a plane and saw Paul Brown," John Nordstrom recalled. "He wanted to get clearance to interview Bill Walsh for the head coaching job. But Brown told him, ‘Oh, you don't want him, he's a terrible alcoholic, we're having all kinds of problems with him.' Lloyd hadn't been in the league before so he bought what Brown was telling him. It wasn't true ... (Brown) just didn't want to lose him, and we never got the chance to interview Bill Walsh."

This seems like a surprising response, but for those that were unaware, Coach Walsh had always thought that Brown was basically black-balling him around the league for head coach positions. Lowell Cohn wrote a book on Walsh, and got some interesting comments from Walsh about Brown:

"Paul could be downright dishonest or whatever it would take, He'd be a great guy if it was convenient. If it wasn't, he'd be himself. I had a lot of ambition. I wanted to be a head coach before I died. And he was holding me back because it was a perfect setup for him. It was as unsettling as hell because he had control of my life."

"The truth is I wasn't his world. I was like a guy from another planet that dropped in. That was about the time of the Vietnam War, and my hair might have been a little longer than his. And I had these boots you zipped up that my wife got me for Christmas, and he saw them one day and he had a fit, he was so upset. So he was afraid that this kook would be his replacement."

When Paul Brown stepped down as head coach, he named Bill Johnson as the next head coach, as opposed to Walsh. This resulted in Walsh's departure from the organization. He went on to spend a season with the San Diego Chargers, getting a chance to work with quarterback Dan Fouts. He followed that up with two seasons as Stanford head coach, and then on to the 49ers.

Imagine if Coach Walsh had started his head coaching career with the Seattle Seahawks in 1976? I can't even begin to imagine what that would mean for the 49ers history. It's a hypothetical, and I don't even know how to wrap my head around it.

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