The San Francisco 49ers won’t be headed back to the Bay Area this season.
Though it was supposed to be just a three-week visit to State Farm Stadium, San Francisco will finish out its regular season in Arizona after COVID-19 restrictions were extended in Santa Clara County, the team said on Friday, via ESPN’s Nick Wagoner.
Santa Clara County, where the 49ers are located just south of San Francisco, implemented tighter coronavirus restrictions that included a ban on all contact sports in the county. That prompted the team, and several college programs, to leave the county. That ban was extended through at least Jan. 8.
The 49ers hosted the Buffalo Bills and Washington Football Team in Arizona the past two weeks. They will travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys on Sunday. The Niners were already scheduled to take on the Cardinals in Arizona on Dec. 26.
The only change to the schedule will be their final game of the season, as they will now host the Seattle Seahawks in Arizona instead of at Levi’s Stadium.
It’s unclear how San Francisco would proceed if it were to make the playoffs. It has dropped five of its past six games, which has severely limited its chances at reaching the postseason.
Shanahan focused on getting families to Arizona for Christmas
One of the biggest things that 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was worried about when the move was first announced was the holiday season. He wanted to be positive that his players and staff could see their families.
He said Friday that the organization is already working to get families down to the Phoenix area, and that they will all be tested for the coronavirus before reuniting with their loved ones.
“The day we were made to leave, we pretty much assumed that would happen,” Shanahan said, via ESPN. “That’s why we made the decision early. We weren’t going to wait for something that we knew was inevitable, so we have been planning on getting our families down … I know not everyone can do it, but anyone who can, we’re getting our families down.”
COVID-19 still worse in Arizona than in Santa Clara
While the move to Arizona was due to coronavirus safety measures, the pandemic is still raging worse in the Phoenix area than it is in Santa Clara County.
Maricopa County, which holds the greater Phoenix area, is averaging more than 91 new cases a day per 100,000 people over the past week compared to more than 62 in Santa Clara County, according to The New York Times.
Neither state is fairing well as a whole. California and Arizona sit third and fourth, respectively, in new cases per capita as of Friday afternoon behind Tennessee and Rhode Island.
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