The San Francisco 49ers face even more challenges in what has already been a difficult season. It appears the 49ers will have to find a new city for at least their next two “home” matchups as Santa Clara County is not allowing teams to play games as a response to COVID-19 regulations.
The 49ers may be sharing a stadium within the division as the Cardinals have emerged as the front-runner to host the team’s home games. The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones reported. “The 49ers are examining the possibility of playing in Arizona as State Farm Stadium will be open for their upcoming games against the Bills and Washington.
“A league source said Saturday that the NFL is looking into playing the 49ers’ next two home games, Dec. 7 against Buffalo on Monday Night Football and Dec. 13 against Washington, at a different stadium on the West Coast,” Jones explained. “A potential option is Arizona’s State Farm Stadium, which is open on both dates. The now-empty Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is not a viable option, the source said.”
The Niners Are Expected to Practice in the Same City Where They Play Their Home Games
Whether it is in Glendale or another city, the 49ers are also expected to practice in their temporary home for at least the next two weeks. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported that the Niners will set up a mini-bubble at their new location.
“The 49ers likely will set up a bubble wherever they go, especially since they won’t be able to practice in Santa Clara County between games,” Florio detailed. “At this point, they should just head to a hotel close to wherever they will be practicing and playing, and they should stay there for the rest of the season.”
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport also reported that Arizona is the current front-runner to be the 49ers’ new home. Rapoport added that the Cardinals are on board with this option.
“Niners officials spent Saturday working with NFL officials continuing to work on a plan for the rest of 2020, and as of late Saturday, nothing was set,” Rapoport explained. “However, sources say the most likely option is for the 49ers to play their final three home games at State Farm Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals. Their NFC West rivals — who actually host the Niners in Week 16 — are said to be willing to accommodate them.”
The NFL Is Considering ‘Local Bubbles’ for the Playoffs
The issue goes beyond the 49ers as other teams could be facing a similar fate in the coming weeks based on local rulings as cases continue to rise across the country. The NFL is considering a “local bubble” for playoff teams to give each game the best chance to be played. Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported the league does not expect to create this bubble prior to the postseason.
“NFL officials are actively discussing creating ‘local bubbles’ for the 14 or 16 teams that make the playoffs — isolating all personnel in hotels except to go to and from the team facility and strictly enforcing limitations on who is permitted inside to interact with players, coaches or support staff,” Rapoport and Pelissero detailed. “That’s considered a more feasible solution than creating 32 separate bubbles for the remainder of the regular season, or creating one large bubble in the mold of the NBA and NHL playoffs, with thousands more people inside because of the size of NFL rosters and staffs.”