Birth of the Sardine Can Offense (SCO)

In the FA period before the 2009 Draft, Scot McCloughan signed Titans WR Brandon Jones to a five year contract. At the time, the 49ers starting WRs were Isaac Bruce and Josh Morgan. The #3 WR, a stiff named Bryant Johnson, was getting the old take a hike treatment. WRs #4/5 were the resilient and gritty, but chronically wounded and marginally talented Arnaz Battle, and the he might-be-good or maybe-not Jason Hill.

Jones was signed to compete with Morgan for the #2 WR, and at the least to be a solid #3, leaving Battle and Hill to scrap over the scraps. Even though this was a sensible signing, given our lack of depth and quality, plus the impending retirement of Bruce, the blog world did not throw a gala fiesta over it. Though Jones had shown a knack while in Tennessee for making 3rd down conversion catches and was gifted with very good hands and superior speed, he also had collected a lot of time on the nicks and bruises bench. The main complaint from the blog world was that the 49ers had overpaid for him, not that he didn’t have some useful skills.

Then Michael Crabtree parachuted into our backyard after a blast of wind ripped through a gaping hole in the head of the neighboring franchise and altered his designated landing area. Suddenly, the 49er WR situation went from are-any-of-these-guys-any-good to we’ve got a lot more applicants than we have openings.

And Jimmy Raye smiled. And pondered his offense.

Then the fun began. And the smile faded. First Crabtree held out. Then, in the first week of Training Camp, Jones continued his injury prone ways by breaking his shoulder. Jason Hill thereupon seized his opportunity and vaulted into the mix – NOT. Where was he? Apparently, nursing leg wrinkles of some lingering sort or attitude wrinkles of some disheartening sort – nobody really knows. He didn’t appear is the only factoid available. Nor would he for the entire 2009 season.

And Jimmy Raye frowned. And pondered his offense.

Season approaching. No Crabtree. No Jones. No Hill. Bruce, Morgan, and Battle were it. Not a fear inducing lineup. To add further to the tremble, Alex Smith got injured in the 2nd Exhibition Game, making him unavailable for the start of the season, and leaving the team with weak-armed QB Shaun Hill.

It was then that the fateful announcement issued forth from 49er HQ: “This offense will run through #21.”

The Sardine Can Offense (SCO) had been born.

Was the SCO a one year wonder/gag me? Will we see it again this coming season? Will it suffer a horrible, book-burning, hard disk wipe out, files carted from the office death? Hmmmm. Inquiring minds, and even expletive in your face minds, would dearly like to know.

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7 comments on “Birth of the Sardine Can Offense (SCO)
  1. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t remember Smith’s injury in the 2nd pre-season game. I thought Hill just beat him out? Please give details so my mind can pull up the data.

  2. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    Please, no more SCO as base offense!

  3. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    Berger, Smith injured himself making that throw down tackle on an interception return. The injury wasn’t big and he probably could have played in the final exhibition game, or at least the season opener, but he missed the pivotal 3rd exhibition game that is the basic get ready for the season game.

  4. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    I’m not saying Hill would not have been named the starter if Smith had not been injured, but it certainly made Raye’s decision to start Hill a no-brainer.

  5. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks Skeebs. I had forgotten about.

  6. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    Berger, I wonder (half facetiously) if maybe the hidden agenda behind the monotonous SCO pound the ball deal was to lull the opposing defense to sleep, then out of the blue catch them napping and have Hill pass five or six times in a row for a quick score late in the game. I think we did this against AZ and Minn. Didn’t need to against Seattle because of Gore’s two blasts up the middle. And the defense won the Rams game.
    The next two games brought a definitive end to the SCO and a chance to get Smith on the field, which is what they wanted all along – when the time was right. Hill had a well earned rep as a gamer and could not be unseated until his rep crashed and burned. In that sense, the job was his to keep all year, but only if he kept winning. If it was going to be a matter of win some/lose some, there was no percentage in having Hill under center because the Niners were never going to invest in him as their long term starter.

  7. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    Skeebs- Can’t deny that Hill had a winning record. IMO, the book got out on him and he was toast. Still, it is hard to not like the guy. I don’t see any conspiracy. Smith just beat him out.

    I think Smith was never 100% last year. Even he said he could’t throw the 65-70 yd Hail Mary. I think it was a combo of Smith finally getting healthy enough and Hill proving he could’t spread the offense vertically with his arm.

    In some ways it reminds me a litle of Drew Brees and his final year in SD. Quesions about the shoulder, and never being able to perform 100%. Difference is in SD they had a QB to take his place. Here they wooed Warner and said they would not be afraid to get a future HOFer. If a David Rivers were here, Smith would be gone. So is Smith the next Brees? We can only hope at this time.

2021 Schedules
09/12: W 49ers 41, Lions 33
09/19: W 49ers 17, Eagles 11
09/26: L Packers 30, 49ers 28
10/03: L Seahawks 28, 49ers 21
10/10: L Cardinals 17, 49ers 10
10/17 BYE
10/24: L Colts 30, 49ers 18
10/31: W 49ers 33, Bears 22
11/07: L Cardinals 31, 49ers 17
11/15: W 49ers 31, Rams 10L
11/21: W 49ers 30, Jaguars 10
11/28: W 49ers 34, Vikings 26
12/05: L Seahawks 30, 49ers 23 12/12 · 10:00 AMCIN
12/19 · 1:05 PM v ATL
12/23 · 5:20 PM v TEN
01/02 · 1:05 PM v HOU
01/09 · 1:25 PM @ LAR

2021 Draft Class
1. QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
2. OG Aaron Banks, Notre Dame
3. RB Trey Sermon, Ohio State
3. CB Ambry Thomas, Michigan
5. OG/OT Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan
5. CB Deommodore Lenoir, Oregon
5. S Talanoa Hufanga, USC
6. RB Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana
2021 Prognostications
Bullit: 12-5
Grumpy: 13-4
NJ49er: 11-6
Skeebers: 14-3
Winder: 12-5
Rob: 17-0
Spitblood: 0-17