Though it’s not his first option, Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers are ready to make the trip to their new temporary home in Arizona.
The team, thanks to new COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County that prohibited all contact sports for three weeks, will now share State Farm Stadium with the Arizona Cardinals.
They will make the trip to Phoenix on Wednesday afternoon, and then get to work for their matchup with the Buffalo Bills on Monday night while taking up residence at the Renaissance hotel near the stadium.
"The best scenario for us and the most convenient for us right now with the situation presented is just getting out to Arizona, there's a good setup there," Shanahan said Tuesday, via ESPN. "The Cardinals have been awesome with us, everyone out there has been awesome with us. I do believe we have a really good setup there to make the best of it, and that's where we'll play our games, too."
‘We’re not trying to stay away’
The decision to move to Arizona for their next two home games — and potentially longer — wasn’t one that Shanahan took lightly.
Not only did he slam the county’s decision for abruptly catching the team off guard, but he said Tuesday that they kept trying to figure out ways to practice or play around the Bay Area but remain outside of Santa Clara County.
But with no suitable location available, and a 14-day mandatory quarantine for all visitors entering the county from a 150-mile radius, the team couldn’t make it work.
So, for now, they’ll move to Arizona.
“I know our guys aren’t going to stop working at [getting us back to the Bay Area],” Shanahan said, via ESPN. “We’re not trying to stay away from everybody for three weeks. If we could come up with something different and something works out, I know we would love to adjust that and come back and do that.”
Local officials, however, have made it clear that they aren’t going to make an exception for the team amid a massive spike in the coronavirus across the country.
“Historically, sportsmanship has been about building a team and protecting that team,” Santa Clara County executive Dr. Jeff Smith told Yahoo Sports. “Coaches, managers and owners used to want to protect their players from harm. Those values seem to have been placed on hold during the COVID pandemic. … If leaders want to protect their teams and communities, they should not play anywhere until it is safe. One might envision a re-emergence of team-building if the teams spent their time building a COVID relief fund for the community rather than trying to put the community at more risk.”
What about Christmas?
Shanahan said one of the biggest questions he’s gotten from players about the move has to do with Christmas.
The 49ers are set to play the Cardinals in Arizona on Dec. 26 anyway, meaning they would have likely had to celebrate Christmas early before making the trip to Phoenix on Christmas Day.
With the team relocating to Arizona temporarily, however, players are worried about not seeing their families at all during the holiday.
While he doesn’t have a plan yet, Shanahan is committed to figuring something out to reunite everyone with their loved ones in time for Christmas.
“I just try to tell our guys, I don’t care what happens, we’re not going to spend Christmas without our families,” Shanahan said, via ESPN. “We’ll figure it out. That’s really what I tried to give everyone just so they could say that to their families, because I think that is their concern.”
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