SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — With COVID cases soaring in Santa Clara County and new restrictions in place, the San Francisco 49ers will head to Arizona Wednesday, relocating all team operations for at least the next three weeks.
While road trips are a common feature of professional sports, there is nothing normal about what is happening to the 49ers. A reality, head coach Kyle Shanahan, is well aware of.READ MORE: Pandemic-Inspired Art Greets Visitors to Newly-Reopened San Francisco Museums
“Right now, we know the restrictions say until the 21st, so we’ve got to plan for about three weeks, at least,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “I’m just telling the guys and our team, just look at it one week at a time. We’ve traveled as a team for a week before, so I’m trying to get guys not to just make all their decisions yet, which is tough with the families and everything, but hopefully we can get down there for a week and kind of figure it out, what we can do, what we can’t do, what the situation is.”
The team will be moving into the Renaissance Hotel, where the Cardinals were headquartered during training camp. They will practice at a facility nearby and play their games at State Farm Stadium.
The daily routine for coaches and players will be much like training camp. There will be few, if any, distractions.
“Basically, we’re moving out there and our hotel will be our new Levi’s Stadium, which is where we go to work,” Shanahan said. “Just like when we’re here, you go to work every day, you get tested. When we’re here, then we go straight home to our house and stay there until you come back the next day to work. Now, I look at it as our house happens to be where our work’s at. So, when we’re done with work, guys just go upstairs to their hotel room.”READ MORE: East Bay Entrepreneurs Eager for Red Tier Easing to Boost Business
Players will not be allowed to gather outside of the practice field. Shanahan said an after dinner gathering after the New Orleans game results in “couple positive tests during our bye week.”
“You don’t want to hang out and stuff,” Shanahan said. “That’s how people get in trouble and that’s how it spreads. That’s what happened to us during our bye week at a hotel (on the East Coast). So, we won’t sit there and hang out at all. We’ll work there and then the guys will go up to their hotel room.”
Shanahan is also aware that Arizona is also in the midst of a surge in new cases.
“I think COVID’s a little bigger there than it is here from statistics some people have told me, so we’ve got to be smart,” he said. We’re not trying to go anywhere, so I plan on guys staying in that hotel and being safe. If guys do end up getting a good setup or they have an apartment nearby where they put their family in or something, just like it is here, when you’re done with work, you can go straight home, be with your family. You get tested every day.”
Aside from the physical demands on the field, the repetitive nature of what is ahead for the 49ers will also cause psychological challenges. Particularly, given the possibility the team will be spending Christmas alone.MORE NEWS: UC Researchers Find North Coast Kelp Forest Nearly Wiped Out
“We’re used to getting away for a week or so, but I can’t tell you how sick of each other we are after a week in a hotel,” he said. “Usually that week’s good and we play better, but then after that week, guys need to get home. So, a week’s not the daunting thing. It’s the month of December that guys get a little overwhelmed with.”