Joe Montana: City wasted opportunity

LONDON -- Joe Montana, perhaps the most iconic sports figure in the city of San Francisco's rich history, took the city's former leaders to task Saturday for not finding a way to keep the franchise.

The 49ers are in their final season at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. They are moving to Santa Clara -- where the team's headquarters is and was when Montana played -- which is about 40 miles south of San Francisco.

The team will remain named the San Francisco 49ers.

At a forum for European NFL fans, Montana, who won four Super Bowls as the 49ers' brilliant quarterback, was asked his thoughts of the team leaving San Francisco. He said the former decision makers in San Francisco "made a terrible effort" to keep the team in the city.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer said he thought the city wasted an opportunity to build a sports mecca downtown. Major League Baseball's Giants are thriving downtown and the Golden State Warriors are moving into a downtown arena.

Still, Montana said he is excited about the new state-of-the-art stadium in Santa Clara and said "it's not like they went to Oakland."

Montana is also pleased that the team is leaving Candlestick Park. He said when he is asked what the worst venue he ever played it was, he sadly had to answer that it was his own home field. He said the field was always wet and referred to its old nickname, "The Quagmire."

The relaxed and humorous Montana was also asked by a fan about his working relationship with his backup Steve Young.

"You ever had anybody try to take your job?" Montana cheerfully responded to the fan. "It was my job to make sure he stayed behind me."