The San Francisco 49ers will announce Thursday that Bill Walsh has resigned as head coach to take another job in the organization and will be replaced by the team's defensive coordinator, George Seifert, according to a knowledgeable source.
Walsh, team owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., and their attorneys met Wednesday for two hours in the villa that DeBartolo is occupying this week while competing in the annual AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament.Neither side would disclose what was decided, but 49er vice president and general counsel Carmen Policy said another meeting would be held at 2 p.m. Thursday - after DeBartolo finishes his opening round with pro partner Roger Maltbie - and that a news conference would be held at 4 p.m.
Asked if Walsh definitely was going and Seifert would be elevated to replace him, Policy Wednesday night responded: "I can't say, but all parties are on the same page. What we'll be doing is to keep things in good order in 1989 and possibly through the `90s."
Walsh, 57, had hinted weeks ago he would step down after 10 years as 49er coach if the team won the Super Bowl, which it did, 20-16, Sunday over the Cincinnati Bengals on a brilliant final-minutes drive engineered by quarterback Joe Montana.
But when confronted immediately after the game and then the following day, Walsh proved elusive.
It is understood Walsh, who earned $1.3 million coaching the 49ers this past season, will continue in the organization.
DeBartolo, about to go to dinner Wednesday night, said, "Nothing has yet been decided." Then he quipped: "I've been playing great golf, but all this stuff will end that. What chaos."
Seifert, a leading candidate for the Cleveland Browns' vacant head coaching position, was en route to Cleveland Wednesday and booked a room in a Cleveland hotel. But then, according to a source, upon arrival in Dallas to change planes, he canceled the second leg of his trip and instead booked a return to San Francisco.
DeBartolo reportedly had told other owners in the National Football League that if Walsh left he would like to replace him with Jimmy Johnson, head coach at the University of Miami, one of the country's top college teams.
But Walsh was emphatic about Seifert, a 49-year-old San Francisco native who has been Walsh's defensive aide since 1980 and before that assisted Walsh when Bill was head coach at Stanford.
"We're going to have the final meeting tomorrow," Policy said on Wednesday. "We anticipate everything will be resolved, but there still are some loose ends."
When asked point blank whether Seifert would succeed Walsh within the next 24 hours, Policy responded: "Not all the pieces are in place yet."
It is understood Walsh hoped to become president of the 49ers; one of his former employers and mentors, Al Davis, moved up from coach to become managing partner of the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. But DeBartolo does not want to give up control of the team.
Walsh is the most successful coach in the 42-year history of the 49ers and one of the most successful ever in pro football. After a 2-14 record in 1979, his first season, and a 6-10 record in 1980, the 49ers became one of the dominant franchises, winning the Super Bowl three times, climaxing the '81, '84 and this, the '88, seasons.
Walsh will depart with an overall record of 102-63-1, including playoff games in his 10 seasons.
Walsh's first major head coaching job was at Stanford, in 1977 and 1978, after years as a pro assistant, with the Raiders, Bengals and San Diego Chargers. He is considered an offensive innovator and often has been labeled as a "genius."
Seifert, a graduate of the University of Utah, has been seeking a head coaching job and said as much after Sunday's Super Bowl win. He has been credited with designing a defense that always ranks high in the NFL.