Red Hickey, 89, an NFL player and coach who is credited with inventing the shotgun formation, died Thursday of natural causes in Aptos, Calif., east of Santa Cruz, where he was receiving hospice care, his son Jeffrey said.
Howard Wayne Hickey was born Feb. 14, 1917, in Hickeytown, Ark., a town founded by his paternal grandfather.
At the University of Arkansas he was an end on the football team and a forward on the basketball team that went to the 1941 NCAA Final Four.
He played in the NFL with the Cleveland Rams, including on the 1945 championship team, and with the L.A. Rams from 1946 to 1948.
In 1960, a year after he took over as coach of the 49ers, Hickey devised a spread formation for the offense that moved the quarterback several yards behind the center.
Hickey resigned three games into his fifth season with the 49ers, finishing with a 27-27-1 record.
Hickey became an assistant coach and later a scout for the Dallas Cowboys, who popularized the shotgun formation starting with Roger Staubach, a mobile quarterback from Navy who was well-suited to the wide-open offense that became a staple of the NFL.