49ers heading to Arizona after Santa Clara County’s ban on games, practices

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers are taking their ball and going to a new home in Arizona.
The Cardinals’ State Farm Stadium in Glendale will host the 49ers’s next two games, because of Santa Clara County’s health directive banning contact sports over at least the next three weeks amid a COVID-19 surge.
The 49ers, on the Arizona Cardinals’ field, will play next Monday night against the Buffalo Bills and then Washington on Sunday, Dec. 13.
The 49ers have yet to announce where they will move their practices and, essentially, their entire operations with the potential of not returning to their Santa Clara facility the rest of the season.
“The biggest thing for me is us all leaving our families. We’re all human like everyone else,” coach Kyle Shanahan said after Sunday’s 23-20 win over the host Los Angeles Rams. “It’s a huge deal to leave your family for the month of December. It’s a huge deal. This virus is a huge deal.
“I want a place that’s safe for us. We need to leave and go somewhere. We’re confident not picking it up and being only around people tested every day. Now we need to find another place.”
Although the 49ers would like to practice this week in a nearby county outside Santa Clara County’s borders, the more likely scenario is they get a jump on their Arizona travels.
The Cardinals’ practice facility in Tempe is not a viable option simply because the Cardinals are occupying it, but nearby college or other fields are being considered for a 49ers team that will otherwise sequester itself in a hotel while abiding by local health protocol.
Jed York, the 49ers’ CEO, expressed his gratitude to the Cardinals’ organization in a Monday morning tweet: “Thank you Michael Bidwell and the @AZCardinals for all of your help. Very appreciative of Arizona welcoming us during these unprecedented times.”
After their games against Buffalo and Washington, the defending NFC champion 49ers will play at the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 20 before returning to State Farm Stadium to play the Cardinals on Dec. 26. The 49ers are to host the Seattle Seahawks in a Jan. 3 regular-season finale.
The 49ers will play as many games at State Farm Stadium in December as the Cardinals (6-5). None of their games overlap on the schedule, and their Dec. 26 meeting will be broadcast via Amazon Prime Video, Twitch and NBC Sports Bay Area.
Although State Farm Stadium hosted 4,200 fans in the Cardinals’ past two games there, the general public is not allowed at the Cardinals’ game Sunday against the Rams because of rising COVID-19 cases in Arizona; family members of Cardinals players and staff can attend, however, and it’s unknown whether the 49ers will be afforded the same opportunity for Monday’s game against the Bills there.
The 49ers were stunned to learn Saturday of the county’s stricter guidelines, and Shanahan expressed “extreme disappointment” over that stealth move that had the 49ers and their families scrambling for answers before and after Sunday’s win.
“That’s all we could talk about for the last 18 hours,  because we got no answers from them,” Shanahan said.
That frustration is compounded by the uncertainty of what’s next — and where to next — on the itinerary.
“We need a place to feel safe and stay. We’re going to have to stay in hotel or somewhere,” Shanahan added. “Second thing, we need practice field to play on and a stadium to play in. I’m not going to be that picky but we need some obvious things.”
If Santa Clara County’s 14-day quarantine order for out-of-state travels remains in effect, that would nullify the 49ers’ chances of returning to Levi’s Stadium for that Seahawks game.
“We’re not sure about how the rest of the season plays out,” running back Raheem Mostert said after Sunday’s win. “One thing I’d really like to say is no matter what we go through, we’re a team and we truly believe we’ll take care of each other.”
Added linebacker Fred Warner: “It’s been roller coaster all season to say the least, and this is one more thing. It’s out of our control. That’s out of our hands. … Whatever we do from here on out, we’ll take it and run with it.”
The 49ers (5-6) had a season-high nine players on the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list last Monday, but five were cleared before their game against the Rams in SoFi Stadium.
Sunday’s upset recharged the 49ers’ hopes of making the playoffs, which will add a seventh team to the NFC field after this past offseason’s changes; half the NFL’s 32 teams could go to the postseason under a contingency plan owners approved if the season’s schedule is severely impacted by cancelations or postponements.
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