Jimmy Garoppolo remains undefeated in five starts since being traded to the 49ers, but it appears he made his first misstep during the offseason.
Bay Area sports fans have quickly embraced the quarterback, who on Thursday became the highest-paid player in the NFL ($137.5 million for five years). But it was his mouth that got him in some trouble with fans during a Friday news conference.
The faux pas? Referring to “San Francisco” as “San Fran.”
“We just got in yesterday, me and my family, so we got a nice little dinner up in San Fran,” the 26-year-old Illinois native said.
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That nickname is widely considered a no-no by locals, and although the 49ers now play in Santa Clara, the Bay Area at large – mainly via Twitter – quickly put Garoppolo in his place.
A lighthearted confrontation followed in an ensuing interview with KPIX 5 reporter Len Ramirez. Quoting his Twitter feed, Ramirez asked, “Did Jimmy G just call San Francisco ‘San Fran?’ Please correct him.”
The quarterback responded, all smiles: “It’s the City, it’s the City. You’ve gotta live and learn.”
There’s data out there to support locals’ contempt for certain nicknames. A recent survey by public relations firm Bospar of 200 Bay Area residents found that only 9 percent of them use the term “San Fran,” real estate blog Curbed reported in January.
It appears Garoppolo is lucky, though, that he called it “San Fran” and not the dreaded “Frisco.” That nickname was explicitly avoided by 64 percent of those surveyed. Another poll with nearly 1,000 responses, at the end of Curbed’s article, confirmed the distaste: Only 10 percent admitted to using “San Fran,” and just 5 percent used “Frisco.”
Why the hate? Charles Fracchia, founder of the city’s historical society, summed it up in Bospar’s press release.
“It is vitally important to call the city ‘San Francisco’ over ‘San Fran’ ... utilizing the full name of any person or place gives it dignity, and I believe ‘San Francisco’ deserves to be referred to in its full name,” Fracchia wrote.
But it seems that a few shorthand expressions remain acceptable. The consensus, among locals and media outlets like SFGate, appears to be that “The City” (28 percent in Bospar’s poll) and “SF” (12 percent) are the only allowable nicknames for San Francisco. The former even appears on some Golden State Warriors merchandise – despite their home arena being currently located in Oakland.