How the Mayor is Mostly Wrong About San Francisco’s Claim on the Name “49ers”

Let’s take a look at what Mayor Gavin Newsom had to say at a recent editorial meeting over at the San Francisco Chronicle, talking about how the City of San Francisco might take on the City of Santa Clara over the 49ers wanting to move on down the Peninsula. These days, there’s talk of the San Francisco 49ers continuing on in the South Bay without any kind of a name change. Says Mr. Mayor:

We can sue… we’re a 49 square mile city, founded in 1849 by the 49ers. The city [Santa Clara] can’t take the name ’49ers‘.”

Ooh, numbers!

1. So let’s see here, the name of the Niners has something to do with the land area of the City of San Francisco? Really? Never heard of  that. Actually, S.F. is a 46-something square mile city, and it used to be a lot smaller especially back in the day. You can add up everything, all our filled-in areas (like the FiDi and the Marina) and then throw in the islands (like the Farallones and Red Rock) and then sprinkle in the parts of islands that are part of San Francisco that shouldn’t be (like Angel Island and Alameda(!) Island) and all that totals just 46. 7 square miles.

(Of course people use the term “7 by 7” but that’s just an approximation.) 

So, how can you sue over something like this?

Strike one.

The Mayor seems to do better calm and prepared, as shown, as opposed to pissed off and off-the-cuff, as he was for at least a brief moment at the Chron’s Ed Board.


2. San Francisco was founded in 1776 and incorporated in 1850. So, 1849 is close, but no cigar. What other cities can also claim 1850 incorporation? Well, how about all the big ones? El Lay, Fun Diego, San Hoser, Sactown (Sacramento, Sacramento where you at?), the list goes on. (Something to do with the Compromise of 1850, they learned us in school in Sacratomatoe.) 

How can you sue over something like this?

Strike two.

Do the Gold Rush cheerleaders know the way to San Jose? They seemed to be baffled by San Francisco’s Civic Center / Tenderloin / Little Saigon area, thereby causing a stir a few years back.


The little girl, nobody notices the little girl being ignored, if ever so briefly, by her caretaker(s), with a loud sigh and a dramatic crossing of the arms.

3. Now if you want to talk about how San Francisco was incorporated by 49ers, people who came here in 1849 looking for gold and whatnot, well, feel free to say that. But so were other cities, specifically Grass Valley, CA and, indeed, Santa Clara. I don’t know how you can use that as an argument. How can you sue over something like this?

Ball one.

We’ll have to leave this at a count of one and two. (Gavin could have thrown in our 49-Mile Scenic Drive as well, but that would only encourage Santa Clara to follow suit with their own. Can you imagine going on that tour? You’d have to handcuff the tourists to their seats after the first half-mile.)

Could jazzy New Orleans have sued when the Utah Jazz basketball team wanted to move to Salt Lake City and yet still keep the green, purple and gold colours of Mardi Gras? Sacre Bleu!

Could somebody today sue Mill Valley-based “Ferrari of San Francisco” for not actually being “of San Francisco”?

The World Wonders.

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