A funny thing happened to the 49ers in late November while they were on their one-hour flight to Los Angeles to play a must-win game against the Rams.
Santa Clara County officials pulled their home and home stadium out from underneath them while they were in the air.
You just can’t make up this stuff. And in this ludicrous San Francisco season during which nothing seems to go right and a strange set of circumstances seems to be lurking around every corner, the 49ers being forced to find a new place to practice and play their home games on the fly at the beginning of the crucial December stretch run seems to fit right in with all the other craziness that has zapped the team in 2020.
“It was just extremely disappointing,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.
For many in 49erland, so was the aftermath of the decision that had the 49ers relocating to Arizona during an unusual three-week road trip that had them living, practicing and playing their Week 13-14 scheduled home games at facilities normally used by their NFC West rival Arizona Cardinals.
It’s possible San Francisco could finish the season engaged in the very same scenario.
The 49ers were on their team airplane headed south when news came to San Francisco’s traveling party that Santa Clara County had imposed a ban on contact sports designed to curb the spread of COVID-19 in a Northern California region that’s been hit particularly hard by the novel coronavirus ever since the worldwide pandemic began in March.
COVID-19 has been an issue for the 49ers ever since, as they were locked out of their Santa Clara team headquarters at times throughout the spring and conducted practically their entire offseason workout program virtually. The 49ers haven’t been allowed to have any fans attend their games at Levi’s Stadium this year, and they’ve been in contact with county officials regularly over the past nine months to discuss contingency plans for pandemic-related circumstances that might arise at any time.
Like, for instance, Santa Clara County’s latest restrictions that went into effect Dec. 1, and will last until at least Dec. 21. Those guidelines also mandate a 14-day quarantine period for anyone traveling into the area from 150 miles away, which means the 49ers can’t go back and forth between their temporary new home and their old home after being kicked out of their team complex.
The 49ers, coming off their late-November bye week, received no advance notice of the county’s decision before it was publicly announced on Nov. 28, and also received no explanation from county officials why a “soft bubble” approach for the team that recently was discussed with the county would no longer work.
“You always expect bumps in the road no matter what you’re doing,” Shanahan said. “The biggest bump was just finding out how long it was a day before we played. That was the biggest thing.
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