The 15-minute film, featuring racist jokes, lesbian soft-porn and topless blondes, features the team's public relations director, Kirk Reynolds, impersonating San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in the mayor's office and other city scenes.
Now the mayor and the city's gay leaders are outraged, the team's owners are embarrassed and Reynolds is leaving the organization. The Chronicle described the film and published an image showing Reynolds with the half-naked women under a screaming headline on Wednesday.
Reynolds called it a "terrible mistake."
"I'm more sorry than anybody," he said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday night. "My intention was to deliver a message important to our team. Certainly the execution and my decision-making were way out of line. I deeply regret it."
Reynolds said he made the video to coach players on handling media questions in diverse San Francisco — and never meant it for public consumption.
The video was shown to players last August during training camp in Santa Clara, where it was part of a diversity workshop.
"I certainly offended people and I never intended to offend anybody," Reynolds said. "Anybody who knows me, that's not a reflection of who I am. I did something for a certain audience that got out of hand. ... It was contradictory to my values and beliefs and contradictory to the team's values. I completely apologize to anybody who was offended."
General manager Terry Donahue showed a snippet to team owner John York in January, just one day before he was fired, and sent a copy to York at York's request in March. Team lawyer Ed Goines got the tape about three weeks ago, the Chronicle reported.
Team owners Denise and John York on Wednesday called the video offensive, inexcusable and "absolutely contradictory to the ideals and values of the San Francisco 49ers."
"Ostensibly, the video was created to raise player awareness about how to deal with the media and to demonstrate by example how poor conduct can unintentionally make news," the Yorks' statement said. "Unfortunately, this video is an example in itself."
An NFL statement supported the Yorks' viewpoint.
"We share their view that the video was inappropriate, offensive in every respect, and of no value whatsoever," the league said. "It does not reflect the 49ers' values and traditions or those of the league and its member clubs."