The 49ers’ 2009 season introduced two semi-new, partially unoriginal, diametrically opposed Offensive Concepts: The Raye Gun and the Sardine Can Offense (SCO)*. Both of these concepts were the product of the 49ers versatile OC, Jimmy Raye.
The SCO made its debut in the first game of the season and produced the stunningly puny output of 21 total yards rushing by Frank Gore. It is uncertain whether this offense was entirely voluntary on Raye’s part, as a wistful response to having a very popular QB named Shaun Hill who was equipped with a passing wing acquired from Wright Brothers Salavage, Inc., or whether the inspirational culprit was a strongly hinted glare from Mike Singletary of “You Get My Drift Here, Don’t You Jimmy?”
At any rate, this offensive system featured a packed group (ala sardines in a can) of players with only two guys, sometimes only one, spread out away from the packing. It’s purpose was to move the opposing team’s packed bunch of players backwards, yard by yard, down the field in a time consuming fashion, picking up a few points along the way, and in the end tiring out the opposing team so that the 49ers could squeeze out a two or three point victory. For this concept to work, since it didn’t, the 49er defense had to make sure the opposing team scored virtually no points, or certainly no more than ten or fifteen, while also producing a turnover or two which allowed the offense to score a few easy points.
Ugly as this SCO system was, the 49ers nevertheless managed to fashion a 3-1 record to start the season. Then the roof fell in, the defense wilted under the pressure, and most importantly, Shaun Hill’s popularity ratings plummeted.
This gave Singletary, at half time of the sixth game, a chance to insert the wildly unpopular, but clearly superior QB talent named Alex Smith. Trailing by a whopping amount, the 49ers went to a wide open shotgun attack and Smith lit up the scoreboard, nearly pulling off an improbably victory. The Raye Gun had made its debut.
For the remainder of the season, the offense jumped wildly in and out of the Raye Gun and the SCO. The SCO ate up time and produced almost nothing, while the Raye Gun scored points but turned the ball over in critical times. The result was an 8-8 season, which has a sort of poetic justice to it, given that neither offensive system was all bad, or all good. The SCO went 3-3 and the Raye Gun went 5-5.
As the 2010 season approaches, fans cannot help but wonder what sort of offense the 49ers are going to come up with this year. Our 2010 Draft, which hauled in some serious beef movers, leads many to fear the SCO will be stubbornly tried again. Others point to the offensive continuity and a chance for Smith and his WRs, especially Michael Crabtree, to make a quantum leap in sympaticonicity and take the Raye Gun to new and exotic levels.
And some think the ideal offense would be a finely tuned balance of both systems. If that should occur, we will need a new moniker to describe the 49er offense. Though bland, the word “Successful” immediately comes to mind as a consummation devoutly to be wished. Readers with spicier suggestions for this type of offense can feel free to enlighten us.
* SCO is copyright 2010 © by Reno “Love” Berger. Trademark pending.