SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — Rendered homeless by the new Santa Clara County COVID health restrictions, the San Francisco 49ers announced Monday they would be playing their next two home games in Arizona.
Faced with a major surge in COVID cases, local health officials announced a ban Saturday on all contact sports from holding games and practices in Santa Clara County for the next three weeks.
It forced the 49ers to look elsewhere to host the team’s Dec. 7 game against Buffalo and the Dec. 13 contest against Washington.
“The San Francisco 49ers have come to an agreement with the National Football League and Arizona Cardinals which allows the 49ers to host their Weeks 13 and 14 home games against the Buffalo Bills and Washington Football Team at State Farm Stadium in Arizona,” the team said in a short statement. “The Cardinals organization, State Farm Stadium and League officials have been supportive and accommodating as we work through the many logistical issues involved in relocating NFL games. Information regarding the 49ers future practice arrangements will be shared at the appropriate time.”
The announcement came in the wake of 49ers head Kyle Shanahan complaining about how he and the players heard about the team’s COVID dilemma. They were on a plane traveling to Los Angeles for Sunday’s game against the Rams.
“They made that decision and we’ve got to deal with it,” Shanahan told reporters after his team defeated the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. “But to find that out through a tweet or a press conference where I have an entire plane coming up to me, I have all wives, everyone’s girlfriends, everyone’s family members, kids, saying that what they heard there. Are we going to be gone for the entire month of December? Are we going to be quarantined for 14 days when we get back? That’s all we could talk about for the last 18 hours because we got no answers from them. I was just very disappointed.”
Shanahan said the team has done everything it can to keep his players, their families and the fans safe from being exposed to the illnesses.
“Our organization has been working their tails off since training camp with the county and trying to do this above and beyond all the NFL protocols they’ve asked for whether it’s masks, whether it’s tracking, getting tested every single day,” he said. “I don’t think you can possibly do more.”
Among those measures has been playing in an empty Levi’s Stadium.
“I got a lot of guys here, he can handle anything. We understand how big of a deal this virus is … that’s why we are so committed,” he said. “That’s why we feel we have done it as good as we can. We’ve not only protected ourselves but also really protected our community. We would love to stay in our hometown, where our fans want us and playing in Levi’s with no people there and only with people who have been tested every single day for the last 5 months.”
Shanahan said he knows the surge is serious, but he’s also dealing with the disruption to the lives of his players and coaches.
“I get it,” he said. “They made that decision, and we’ve got to deal with it… That’s all we could talk about for the last 18 hours because we got no answers from them. I was just very disappointed and very proud of our guys. That I couldn’t give them the answers and they could put it to the side and come out and play like that.”