Major broadcast networks enjoy featuring odd San Francisco locations that are more than an hour distant from Santa Clara, where the 49ers play their home games, during primetime 49ers games. The second, if there are two things, is making sure that San Franciscans are aware of how little the broadcasters know about the city.
For years, the gold standard in this field was broadcasting veteran Al Michaels, who made it abundantly plain during a 2020 lovefest with the Golden Gate Bridge that he had no idea how the bridge earned its name.
However, after two weeks of Niners games being televised nationally (last week’s 49ers-Broncos game was on Sunday Night Football), not only have there not been any mistakes, but ESPN’s Joe Buck even made fun of the closest thing to one during Monday night’s Rams-Niners telecast.
San Francisco led 7-6 with 6:22 remaining in the second quarter, so Buck was obliged to narrate an animation of a cable car traveling down Lombard that displayed Kyle Shanahan’s stats over the years as it turned at each corner.
“Well, off to the cartoon world we go,” Buck began. “It’s been a road of sharp turns for Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers. He went 10-22 first two seasons, been able to right the trolley earning a trip to Super Bowl 54. A 6-10 season followed, before returning to the NFC title game last season.
“Will there be more turns in their chase for the Lombard…i trophy?” he cringed, before acknowledging how obviously misguided the animation was. “Before Twitter goes crazy, we know that those trolley cars do not go down Lombard Street.”
They do not, in fact. They do travel through many other lovely streets that could have just as easily been depicted. Or, if they were so set on the awful “turn” and “Lombard…i” puns, they could have easily portrayed Shanahan traveling down Lombard in one of the numerous other vehicles that do. Alas.
“Yeah,” his ESPN booth-mate Troy Aikman said with a chuckle.
He obviously hasn’t watched a lot of Niners games on national television.
“So just put your phone back, just stop right now. I can’t believe they had a trolley on Lombard Street,” he continued, incredulously.