In one NFL sense, the Bill Walsh coaching tree is a mighty oak worthy of the Garden of Eden.

In one NFL sense, the Bill Walsh coaching tree is a mighty oak worthy of the Garden of Eden.

In this NFL-specific sense, the Bill Belichick coaching tree offers just enough shade to cover a two-sandwich picnic.

The Walsh branches are heavy with Super Bowl fruit. Behold the last 20 years.

George Seifert won two Super Bowls after Walsh handed him the 49ers baton. Mike Holmgren, whose first NFL job was coaching Joe Montana and Steve Young under Walsh, led the Packers to their only two post-Lombardi Super Bowls, then steered Seattle to its only Roman numerals Sunday. Mike Shanahan, the last offensive coordinator of the Walsh-inspired 49ers dynasty, piloted Denver to its first Super Bowl win 10 years ago, and its second a year later.

Jon Gruden and Andy Reid, “Walshniks” by osmosis through working with Holmgren, coached teams to Super Bowls within the last five years.

For now, on the other hand, Cleveland’s Romeo Crennel and the New York Jets’ Eric Mangini are the only NFL head coaches who participated in the rise of Belichick’s New England Patriots. Neither Crennel nor Mangini has won a playoff game in a combined five seasons.

But then, Belichick is a tree unto himself. It’s just a matter of time until his branches are blocking out the sun in the upper-level NFL coaching ranks.

Everyone is looking for a coach who can do what Belichick has done. For some, that will mean looking for a Belichick clone.

It won’t hurt Belichick’s young offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, when head coach seekers recognize both he and Mr. Bill:

- Were genius-level students in high school.

- Adored strict, meticulous fathers who were disciplined coaches eager to educate their sons.

- Behind placid exteriors, are madly in love with a game they weren’t good enough to play outside small-college football.

- Scrapped to get entry-level NFL jobs in their early 20s.

- Obsess with mastering the science of the game.

- Live to punish enemies where they are weak.

- Embrace the maniacal workload.

Belichick has a knack for hiring himself, so to speak. McDaniels and Mangini came to him as ambitious workaholics in their early 20s, precisely what Belichick was when Ted Marchibroda hired him with the Baltimore Colts in 1975.

New England’s wide receivers coach, Nick Caserio, is a kindred spirit to McDaniels. They were college teammates at John Carroll, where Caserio was a quarterback and McDaniels a wide receiver.

Belichick routinely takes big intellect over big-time playing background in assembling his staff. Other current Belichick assistants played college ball at Rensselaer, Brown and Northern Colorado, none of which could hang with Appalachian State.

Crennel and Mangini, meanwhile, are an odd couple of Belichick branches. Crennel is the oldest current head coach in the NFL. Mangini was the youngest when the Jets hired him in 2006.

For what it’s worth -- and that’s something, given the fact they won three Super Bowls together -- Belichick, Crennel and Mangini share some distinctive traits with many other current head coaches.

Such as:

- Each was a defensive coordinator before landing a head coaching job.

- None played major-college football; both Belichick and Mangini played at Wesleyan in different eras.

- None played in the NFL.

- Each is from the Bill Parcells coaching tree, as is Belichick’s opposite number in this year’s Super Bowl, Tom Coughlin.

Everyone is looking for the common threads that make a great NFL head coach. Opinion is split as to what those threads are.

Belichick, Crennel and Mangini are among 17 current had coaches who were NFL defensive assistants the year before first becoming NFL head coaches. Fourteen of them were defensive coordinators.

Eight current head coaches were offensive coordinators the year before getting their big jobs. Three jumped from NFL quarterbacks coach to head coach.

Coughlin is the only current head coach who landed first NFL head coaching job directly out of the college head coaching ranks.

Other traits many or most NFL head coaches have in common:

- All of them played college football.

- None was close to being a Pro Football Hall of Fame player.

- Of the six who played in the NFL -- Tony Dungy, Jeff Fisher, Herman Edwards, Sean Payton, Jack Del Rio and Dick Jauron -- only Del Rio and Jauron went to a Pro Bowl. Each went once.

- None played college ball in the SEC or in Florida.

- Thirteen were born in California, Ohio, Illinois or Texas.

- Thirteen others were born in states touching the Atlantic Ocean, but none in Florida.

- Twelve played linebacker or defensive back in college.

- Nine were college quarterbacks.

Then there was the guy who made his athletic name in lacrosse as much as football at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

That would be Bill Belichick. Whatever his warts, his resume is out of this world.

If yours has enough matches with his, or perhaps includes him as a reference, your stock is up these days.

Reach Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail