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9:43AM

SF Examiner: Odds of 49ers staying in S.F. are slim to none

SAN FRANCISCO — So what do you think of the Santa Clara 49ers? The training facility is in Santa Clara. The presumptive new stadium will be in Santa Clara.

Why then should they ever be called the San Francisco 49ers again?

We nearly had the Fremont A’s, who still think of themselves as the San Jose A’s. They remain determined to pull a fast one on Oakland, which put a lot of money into the Coliseum, but is a city without cachet.

For the moment, it’s an NFL team going south — literally.

San Francisco used to be the place where the action was. It had the bridges, the little cable cars and the Niners, the first major sports franchise in Northern California.

It also, besides the Giants, had the Warriors. Yes, they were the San Francisco Warriors before playing a few games in San Diego, being given the mythical title of Golden State and then relocating along the Nimitz.

At least the Warriors — Team Dysfunction (And hasn’t that surreptitious e-mail from HQ been a hoot and a half?) — are only a BART ride away from The City, where they once played. And where the Niners will have once played.

True, until Jed York puts his Gucci shoes on a gold-plated shovel in one of those photo-op poses and construction symbolically is underway, the stadium remains only a talking point, though a cost of $937 million is an expensive talking point.

A lot of promises have been made, but the good citizens of Santa Clara must give their approval, and, hey, even the bottom-end of Silicon Valley has an independent streak.

You know there’s going to be opposition, because in Northern California, unless it’s a vote to save salamanders or marijuana fields in Mendocino, there’s always opposition.

Back in the late 1990s, after San Franciscans, at least those who actually voted, passed a $100-million measure that seemingly enabled the Niners to get a new facility at the old location, the team was going to have a combination 
stadium-shopping center at Candlestick.

But first the team went semi-bad, then was snatched away from benevolent owner Eddie DeBartolo, who according to the courts was more than semi-bad, and taken over by the man Eddie wouldn’t invite to his own parties, brother-in-law John York.

About the only thing Eddie and John had in common was the undeniable belief the Stick was a pig sty and not a very pretty place.

Nor were the Niners a very pretty team the last few years.

In the 21st century, it became apparent San Francisco had neither the political maneuvering (come back Willie Brown, wherever you are) or the financial support to keep its team within the city limits.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, with the assistance of one-time Niners executive Carmen Policy, couldn’t make a go of it, and so the Niners are destined to flee one city named after a saint to another.

“It’s a great deal,” said Patricia Mahan, the mayor of Santa Clara.

You expect her to be critical?

Good riddance, then, Niners. The City will still have the Giants and AT&T Park, the anti-pig sty. Things could be worse.

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. E-mail him at typoes@aol.com.

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http://www.sfexaminer.com/sports/Spander-Odds-of-49ers-staying-in-SF-are-slim-to-none-46775722.html
Copyright 2009 SF Newspaper Company 
9:16AM

SF Examiner: Niners’ season could hinge on QB decision

By Art Spander
Special to The Examiner


SAN FRANCISCO — In May, we ask about September, about the 49ers, about the most important of positions, about  the quarterback. In May, we wonder who will be starting when the season is starting.

That’s the issue as the Niners hold a minicamp, or what in NFL newspeak is labeled an “OTA” (organized team activity).

That’s the issue, who plays quarterback for the franchise of quarterbacks, the franchise of Frankie Albert, John Brodie, Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jeff Garcia.

Mike Singletary is a defensive guy, a Hall of Fame linebacker.

Singletary is a slug-it-out guy, who played for the Chicago Bears, a slug-it-out team.

“We will go out and hit people in the mouth,” Singletary promised in October after his first game as the then interim coach.

Maybe that works here by the Bay, maybe not.

We’re used to passes, short or long. We’re used to offense. We’re used to a quarterback who does more than hand-off.

So who’s that quarterback? Shaun Hill, the undrafted overachiever who doesn’t so much win games as he does from keeping the Niners from losing them?

Or from off the scrapheap, Alex Smith, the first man taken in the ’05 draft who for various reasons — injuries, coaching switches — has done almost nothing?

Does Hill, who we’re told is more caretaker than offensive innovator, become Singletary’s choice to keep the game under control?

Or does Smith, healthy again, get the opportunity to show the reason he was selected ahead of every other player then available?

“We’re all communicating,” Singletary said of players and staff. “They’re going to tell us when that decision needs to be made. They’re going to compete.”

The Niners brought in free-agent Kurt Warner for a visit after the Super Bowl, even after Singletary fired offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who years ago with the St. Louis Rams built the offense, the “Greatest Show on Turf,” which made Warner a star.

Warner never was going to join the 49ers. He re-signed with the Arizona Cardinals, the NFC champions.

So do the Niners believe in Hill or in Smith? Or in neither? Do the Niners, with their seventh offensive coordinator in seven years,Jimmy Raye, feel confident Hill, who spent seasons on the Vikings’ bench or Smith, who got trashed by former coach Mike Nolan, can make a losing team a winner?

“They’re competing not so much against each other,” Singletary said in one of those coaching comments that bewilders more than it explains, “but against the best quarterbacks in the league.”

Not until one of them is named starter. Not until the games begin.

“Coach Singletary is a fiery guy,” Hill said about the coach’s displeasure with the way both he and Smith performed in the first day’s workout, “and he obviously holds the quarterbacks to a high standard.”

A standard maybe neither QB reaches, although one of them will be reaching for the football from behind center.

“At the end of the day,” Singletary said, “we’ll know when that decision needs to be made, and we’ll do it.”

And we’ll hope they’ve done it correctly.

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com andwww.realclearsports.com. E-mail him at typoes@aol.com.

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http://www.sfexaminer.com/sports/Spander-Niners-season-could-hinge-on-QB-decision-45456527.html
Copyright 2009 SF Newspaper Company 
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