The 49ers’ season experienced a rebirth last week with a surprising win over the division-leading Rams. For San Francisco’s renaissance to continue through December, the team is hoping to make the best of its stay, for at least the next three weeks, at a Phoenix-area Renaissance.
San Francisco is expected to depart for Arizona on Wednesday, four days after learning that Santa Clara County, home to its stadium and team facility, had issued new COVID-related restrictions prohibiting contact sports for three weeks. The 49ers announced Monday they will play their Week 13 and 14 games against the Buffalo Bills and Washington Football Team, respectively, at State Farm Stadium, home of the rival Arizona Cardinals.
San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters Tuesday that before and between those contests the 49ers will live and practice in a multi-block radius in Glendale, Arizona.
“Our hotel will our new Levi’s Stadium,” Shanahan said. “When we’re done with work, people have to go back to their hotel room.”
That hotel, the Renaissance Hotel in Glendale, which is a pigskin’s throw from State Farm Stadium, won’t be the site of a “bonding” experience, Shanahan explained; the coach noted to reporters that San Francisco’s last COVID-19 outbreak before Week 9 was the result of out-of-office mingling amongst players. The 49ers’ work trip out of the state isn’t a vacation, either, or an excuse to go out in and around Glendale.
Shanahan noted that the team has to be even more careful because, in an ironic turn, the COVID-infection rate in Maricopa County, Arizona is currently higher than that in Santa Clara County, California.
“We’ve got to be smart,” Shanahan said, per CBS5 Arizona. “We’re not planning on going anywhere.”
Joining the 49ers as they go nowhere but their hotel and the practice field in a Phoenix exurb will be their rehabbing players, like George Kittle and Jimmy Garoppolo, who are not returning to the field anytime soon — though Shanahan said he’s “holding out hope for both of their returns — but will be unable to rehab at San Francisco’s facility in Santa Clara.
Kittle’s and Garoppolo’s injuries are among the many that appeared to have sunk San Francisco’s season by mid-November, as the 4-6 49ers rode a three-game losing streak into their bye. But Sunday’s win over the Rams pulled San Francisco back within two games of playoff contention with five games to go.
The reigning NFC champs, despite being disassembled and displaced in 2020, are still alive.
“It’s easier to go through the grind,” Shanahan said, “when you have a chance to get into that tournament at the end.”
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