By Robert Haugh
The 49ers are undefeated at 5-0. It’s the team’s best start since 1990. Joe Montana was the quarterback back then and they finished 14-2. But they lost in the NFC Championship game.
They’ve finally turned things around on the field since they fired Jim Harbaugh in 2014. Most NFL experts give the credit to Coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch for turning the franchise around. Kudos to them. They replaced Coach Jim Tomsula and GM Trent Baalke who were a disaster.
But we wondered why the 49ers’ football operation seems to have it together and their non-football operation seems to be so lousy.
Recently, the City sent the 49ers a termination notice because they have been mismanaging non-NFL stadium events.
So the 49ers sued the City. No surprise. It’s the sixth time the team has sued the City, according to the City Attorney Brian Doyle. But they haven’t won any of the lawsuits. Whoops.
They’ve also blown it in local politics. In 2016, the team was closely tied to BluPac, a dark money group that wouldn’t disclose its donors. They tried to elect a majority of the council but failed miserably. 49ers President Al Guido wouldn’t answer questions about BluPac or deny they were funding them.
Guido was the 49ers point person for taking over the Youth Soccer Park. But he failed miserably at that, too. He was the 49ers’ version of Tomsula.
But according to a source close to the team, Guido turned over the community relations and political responsibilities after the soccer park mess.
Longtime team lobbyist Ed McGovern is also no longer leading community relations or political efforts. He terminated his role as a 49ers lobbyist in 2018. According to a source close to McGovern, “he still helps out a little.”
Who’s in Charge Now?
According to our source, Jim Mercurio and Rahul Chandhok are leading the community relations and political efforts in Santa Clara.
Mercurio is the stadium manager who got stock in companies that do business with the stadium. After our initial report, the California Fair Political Practices Commission and the City started an investigation into Mercurio’s conflict of interest.
Chandhok is the team’s lead lobbyist now that McGovern has stepped down. He’s also become the team’s public relations attack dog now that Guido has pulled back. According to our source, Chandhok is also in charge of recruiting candidates to run for the Santa Clara city council. But Chandhok doesn’t have much local experience. He previously worked for Sacramento’s former Mayor Kevin Johnson.
With Mercurio and Chandhok leading the 49ers off the field, don’t expect their record in the community to improve anytime soon.
Editor’s Note: Yesterday’s story about Posh Bagel generated a lot of interest. After our story ran, over 500 people signed the petition. As of yesterday evening, there were about 1,900 signers. Wow. The goal has now been raised to 2,500. Double wow. You can still sign and help.