Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan ‘very disappointed’ with Santa Clara County’s communication, proud of 49ers for overcoming adversity

Nov 29, 2020 at 6:04 PM--

Everyone wants to know what the San Francisco 49ers will do for the remainder of the season. That includes head coach Kyle Shanahan and his players. Will they play at State Farm Stadium in Arizona? Will they have to play elsewhere?

One place the 49ers won't play for at least the next two home games is Levi's Stadium. They also won't be practicing at their neighboring facility. Starting on Monday, new Santa Clara County COVID-19 restrictions will ban collegiate and professional contact sports in the area. That has left the Niners desperately seeking answers.

The 49ers were still able to pull off a 23-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams despite the recent distractions, including several players landing on the reserve/COVID-19 list following their last game.

"What our team went through here in these last two weeks -- our week off with how COVID hit us, and then yesterday, just the stuff they found out in a very awkward spot for us," Shanahan told reporters after the game. "I can't be more proud of our team. What they've gone through all year, but especially these last two weeks, and especially these last 24 hours, I did have a lot of concern because of some of the stuff all of us and our families have been dealing with.

"I can't tell you how proud of those guys, how they went out there and fought. Not all of it was perfect, but their heart and energy and everything was, and I couldn't ask for anything more from those guys."

The 49ers will return home tonight and will not need to quarantine since the team will arrive before the restrictions go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Shanahan and company will have a little more time to figure out the situation because San Francisco's next game is a Monday-night matchup against the Buffalo Bills. That means the team can hold off on practicing until Thursday.

Again, that won't be in Santa Clara County, though.

"We're working our tail off to try to figure it out," Shanahan said. "I know other people are. I've been doing this for the last 24 hours. You guys want to know the answers. So do our wives. So does everyone who knows us.

"It was a very disappointing thing, [the news that] we got yesterday. Our organization has been working their tails off since training camp with the county and trying to do this above and beyond. All the NFL protocols, all the protocols they've asked for, whether it's masks, whether it's tracking, getting tested every single day."

Shanahan and the 49ers were boarding the plane headed to Los Angeles when they received news of the updated restrictions, and were a little shocked at how they got the news.

"We got the news from Twitter," wide receiver Deebo Samuel said. "(General manager) John (Lynch) got on the intercom and was telling us what was going on. The team motto is 'control the things you can control.' We just make the best out of every opportunity we get."

Quarterback Nick Mullens found out when his friend texted him, saying, "Dang, 49ers, huh?"

"I didn't know what he was talking about," Mullens explained. "And then he sent me a screenshot [of the news]. ... It's tough for us, but it's more tough for the families. We'll see what happens, and we're going to adjust, and be ready for whatever."

Shanahan sounded frustrated by how he and his players learned the news. The coach felt his team had a good relationship with Santa Clara County officials, given how closely they have worked together to ensure the safety of players, coaches, staff, everyone's families, and the community.

"For all of our players and coaches, and everyone on the plane, and our wives to find that out while we're getting on a plan, and no one to tell us, it was just extremely disappointing," Shanahan said. "... To find that out through a tweet or a press conference, where I have an entire plane coming to me, I have all wives, everyone's girlfriends, everyone's family members, kids, saying what they heard there.

"Are we going to be gone for the entire month of December? Are we going to be quarantined when we get back? That's all we could talk about for the last 18 hours because we got no answers from them. I was just very disappointed (in the county) and very proud of our guys, that I couldn't give them the answers, and they could put it to the side and come out and play like that. I've got so much appreciation for our team and those players. I'm very proud to be those guys' coach."

Rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw learned the news after the game when a reporter asked him to share his thoughts on the situation.

"I ain't gonna lie, I ain't even really know that (we couldn't practice in Santa Clara)," Kinlaw shared while laughing. "I don't know. I ain't really know that."

Fred Warner was well-aware of the situation.

"It's been a rollercoaster all season, to say the least," the linebacker told reporters. "This is just one more of those things where it's out of our control. We're just going to have to play it by ear with what's going to happen, but we've got to control what we've got to control. That's out of our hands."

Shanahan says the 49ers are seeking a location that is safe for the team. They had that in Santa Clara as players and personnel did their best to isolate themselves to just the facility and their homes.

"Now we've got to find another place (that feels safe), so that's where it starts," Shanahan said. "We need a place that we can feel safe and stay ... so we're going to have to stay in a hotel or somewhere. So, that's where it would start. Second thing, we need a practice field to play on. And then obviously we need a stadium to play in. I'm not going to be that picky, but we need some obvious things that I think are extremely obvious."

Kirk Larrabee contributed to this article.

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