Football

NO WALSH FOR NINERS: There's no Bill Walsh in the San Francisco 49ers' future.

Walsh, who laid the foundation for one of the longest-running success stories in NFL history, told San Francisco radio station KNBR that he will not be involved with the team, even if owner Eddie DeBar-tolo asks.

Walsh said in the interview on Thursday that he's involved with a group trying to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles, a job that could involve part ownership and perhaps even running the team.

"I've informed Mr. DeBartolo that I will not be considering returning to the 49ers, and I just want to wish him well and having the club returned to him," Walsh said..

When former 49ers President Carmen Policy resigned on July 22, speculation began that DeBartolo might want Walsh to return to the team. Walsh said there were some talks three or four months ago about his becoming temporary general manager.

MORGAN MISSES AFA OPENING: One face was conspicuously absent from the opening day of football practice Friday at the Air Force Academy - that of Blane Morgan.

The senior quarterback was resting at his Carrollton, Texas, home after undergoing an emergency appendectomy Tuesday night.

"I anticipate he will be out to practice and be able to do some light things next week," said Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry.

PHILLIPS, FLUTIE RETURN: A lot has changed with the Buffalo Bills since Wade Phillips last was an NFL head coach and Doug Flutie played on a field that wasn't 110 yards long.

For instance: Jim Kelly is long gone at quarterback, running back Thurman Thomas is out of the starting lineup and the 3-4 defense left with former coach Marv Levy.

The Bills begin a new era Saturday they hope will be reminiscent of the successes of the past - i.e. their four trips to the Super Bowl - rather than their 6-10 record in Levy's last season in 1997.

It starts in Pittsburgh against a familiar rival, the Steelers, with Phillips uncertain what awaits, except for one thing: Change.

And there are changes everywhere in the Bills, beginning in the backfield.

Rob Johnson, formerly Mark Brunell's backup in Jacksonville, is the starting quarterback. Flutie, the 1984 Heisman Trophy winner who returns from nearly a decade in the CFL, and former starter Todd Collins are competing to be his backup.

At running back, Thomas, the leading rusher in team history, has become a backup to Antowain Smith, the Bills' top draft pick a year ago.