New local regulations taking effect will force the San Francisco 49ers to play their December home games in Arizona, the team announced Monday. The move comes as the NFL has grappled with several coronavirus-related issues over the last week, which included the postponed Thanksgiving Day game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. 

The 49ers said they’ve reached an agreement with the NFL and Arizona Cardinals allowing them to host games against the Buffalo Bills (December 7) and Washington Football Team (December 13) at State Farm Stadium, the Cardinals’ home field. 

“The Cardinals organization, State Farm Stadium and League officials have been supportive and accommodating as we work through the many logistical issues involved in relocating NFL games,” the team said. Future team practice arrangements will be announced at a later time. 

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, health officials announced over the weekend that all contact sports were temporarily prohibited in Santa Clara County, where the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium is located. Officials also mandated a 14-day quarantine for anyone traveling to the area from 150 miles away.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan called the decision “extremely disappointing” after learning the news prior to boarding a plane to Los Angeles on Saturday. 

“Everyone has been so committed to this, so the biggest thing for me is just all of us leaving our families,” Shanahan said following a thrilling  23-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams. “We’re all humans just like everyone else, and it’s a big deal to leave your family for the whole month of December.” 

“We need to find a place we can feel safe and stay because we’re not going to be able to go to our homes anymore that are safe. So we’re going to have to stay in a hotel or somewhere,” he added.

The team’s running back Raheem Mostert, who hasn’t been with his family all season, said it’s been a struggle to not be with them. 

“It’s really tough, I miss them so much,” he said. “It’s a fight every day, you’re fighting for your life.” 

The rules remain in effect until December 21 and home games against Buffalo and Washington can’t be played at Levi’s Stadium under the new regulations.

As the pandemic surges again in the U.S., the NFL is reeling from another major team outbreak and other COVID-19-related incidents. 

The Ravens have more than a dozen players, including reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson, that have tested positive for the virus. The team outbreak forced the NFL to postpone their Thanksgiving game against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers to Sunday, before moving it again to Tuesday.  

The Denver Broncos resorted to use a player on their practice squad as quarterback after three players higher on the depth chart were designated as “high-risk” contacts to quarterback Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for coronavirus. The replacement, Kendall Hinton — a wide receiver in the pros and former high school quarterback – completed a single pass for 13 yards and two interceptions against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in his first NFL game. 

Following a Saints’ maskless post-game celebration earlier this month, CBS Sports reported the team was fined $500,000 and docked a draft for violating COVID-19 protocols for a second time this season. They also fined the Patriots $350,000 when quarterback Cam Newton and others tested positive, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. 

Source Article