The West Coast Offense was created by Bill Walsh while he was an assistant coach with the Cincinnati Bengals in the 60′s and 70′s. When he became the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, he brought the system with him and it developed into one of the most successful NFL offenses. Bill Walsh and the 49ers went on to win 3 Super Bowls using the West Coast Offense with players like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. The philosophy of the West Coast is to emphasize short, horizontal passing plays that allow for a high completion percentage and a great run after the catch ability. Throughout the years, the West Coast Offense has gone through many versions and modifications in the NFL and College ranks. When it was initially designed, it was never run out of the shotgun, but now it is used extensively that way. As of 2012, the only team in the NFL that is running the West Coast Offense is the San Francisco 49ers and Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh has modified the offense to be a run first, pass second offense to fit his personnel.
Useful West Coast Offense Links:
West Coast Offense – Wikipedia - Some very basic information
The Unofficial West Coast Offense Website - Old website that is not updated anymore, but is a great place to start
SmartFootball – West Coast Analysis - Can the West Coast Offense be taught anywhere besides the NFL?
USA Today – West Coast Offense Past It’s Prime? - Recent USA Today article about the possible demise of the West Coast Offense