PHOENIX (CBS SF/AP) — Just hours before their kickoff against Washington, the San Francisco 49ers announced Sunday that offensive line coach John Benton had tested positive for COVID-19 and would not attend the game.
Fortunately, it appears that none of the team’s offensive linemen — including former Washington star offensive tackle Trent Williams — have been exposed to the virus.
“The San Francisco 49ers today were informed that offensive line coach John Benton has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not attend today’s game,” the team said in a release. “His duties will be absorbed by the offensive coaching staff.”
Benton immediately went into self-quarantine and the team conducted the appropriate contact tracing as part of the NFL’s intensive COVID-19 protocol.
“We will continue to communicate with the League and medical professionals and take the necessary precautions in the best interest of health and safety,” the team said.
Meanwhile, Williams is headed into his first game against his former team, saying he holds no ill will to his former franchise.
“The people who helped instigate this situation are no longer part of the organization,” Williams said Thursday. “I’m not going to sit here and just carry some grudge just because people expect me to carry it.”
Williams was at odds with the organization when he refused to play last season because he said he distrusted the medical staff and front office because of a botched cancer diagnosis.
Coach Kyle Shanahan was on the staff in Washington when Williams was drafted in the first round in 2010 and knew he’d be the perfect replacement at left tackle for the retired Joe Staley.
Williams has quickly got back to the form that made him a seven-time Pro Bowl selection during his time in Washington as the anchor to San Francisco’s offensive line.
“He came in so hungry and excited to play football,” Shanahan said. “One thing about Trent, everybody knows his talent, but Trent enjoys playing football. He’s fitting in great here. The guys respect the hell out of him. We had a great two-week training camp where guys got to know him, and he got voted one of our team captains. I think that says a lot about the guy. I know the year hasn’t gone the way he or I had hoped, but he’s been exactly what I’d hoped for as a player and the exact person I thought and even more.”