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

By Cam Inman, The Mercury News on

Published in Football

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The 49ers are taking their ball and going to a new home in Arizona.

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 vs. Washington on Sunday, Dec. 13.

The 49ers (5-6) 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."

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 most natural fit is to follow what the Cardinals do for training camp: Practice on fields outside State Farm Stadium and stay at a neighboring hotel, all of which offers turnkey operations to also stage meetings, distribute food and follow other quarantine-needed measures to abide by Maricopa County's protocol.

The Cardinals' practice facility in Tempe is not a viable option simply because the Cardinals are occupying it, but nearby college or other fields and vacancy-friendly resorts are alternatives while abiding by local health protocol.

Shanahan did not speak Monday as he normally would the day after a game, deferring to Tuesday in hopes of providing more clarity on travel plans. He did add Sunday: "I want a place that's safe for us."

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."

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