"Walt was a really good guy," Nehlen said. "I probably stayed in contact with him more than any of my former players."
Easley went on to play for the Chicago Blitz and Pittsburgh Maulers in the USFL.
However, it was his play with the 49ers that made a lasting mark. He earned a Super Bowl ring playing for coach Bill Walsh in a win over the Bengals after the 1981 season. That victory began the 49ers dynasty.
Easley discovered his kidney function had declined in 1991, but didn't begin dialysis treatment until 1999.
"He battled this for a long time," Nehlen said. "It just makes me sick. We lost a great Mountaineer, that's for sure."
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.