SANTA CLARA, Calif. — After moving their entire football operation to Arizona for what they initially hoped would be just a three-week stay, the San Francisco 49ers will finish the 2020 regular season in the desert.
A team spokesman said the decision was made to remain in the Phoenix area through the end of the NFL season after Santa Clara County announced it would be extending its COVID-19 restrictions, including a ban on contact sports, through at least Jan. 8.
When the season ends, the Niners will have played three “home” games and one road game at State Farm Stadium over the season’s final month.
Santa Clara County’s extension of the protocols was something the Niners expected when they moved, which is why coach Kyle Shanahan told his team that he and the Niners operations staff would do all they could to try to get the players’ loved ones down to Arizona for Christmas week.
According to 49ers general manager John Lynch, that process is already underway. Lynch told KNBR radio in San Francisco on Thursday that many of those loved ones have already arrived or will be headed south this weekend. That will allow them to get tested for COVID-19, and when the Niners get back from Sunday’s road game against the Dallas Cowboys, they’ll be able to see their families.
“They’re all going to test in when we’re gone so we can see them when we get back,” Lynch told KNBR. “That will be a big lift to the guys.”
The 49ers relocated to Arizona on Dec. 2 after the initial announcement of enhanced guidelines from Santa Clara County on Nov. 28. They’ve since lost “home” games to the Buffalo Bills and Washington Football Team to drop to 5-8 and seen their postseason hopes dwindle.