David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan reacts to Santa Clara County exec Jeff Smith’s criticisms of 49ers

Dec 3, 2020 at 1:45 PM--

Head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked on Thursday about the criticisms by Santa Clara County executive Dr. Jeff Smith this week. Smith questioned the San Francisco 49ers' reaction of feeling blindsided by new local restrictions that forced the team to uproot itself and move its operations to Glendale, Arizona.

The 49ers learned of the new restrictions on Saturday while boarding a plane to Los Angeles for Sunday's game against the Rams. The restrictions, which prohibit contact sports in the area, went into effect on Monday at 12:01 a.m. and are expected to last three weeks.

"We have been in contact with the 49ers for months on a regular basis, including discussions about their recent outbreak," Smith said. "The 49ers clearly have been aware of the rising case rates here and around the country, the fact that hospitals are filling, and the challenges they and other teams have had in controlling transmission between players, staff, and families.

"... It is hard for me to believe that the 49ers were surprised by the new orders given how serious the situation is both locally and across the country."

Smith went on to question the 49ers' values after the decision to move to Arizona.

"If leaders want to protect their teams and communities, they should not play anywhere until it is safe," Smith added. "One might envision a reemergence of team-building if the teams spent their time building a COVID relief fund for the community rather than trying to put the community at more risk."

What did the 49ers coach think about the comments? He didn't initially want to say too much about them.

"I have no reaction to that," Shanahan said when asked via Zoom. "I'm not (interested in reacting to) someone who questions our values who doesn't know us. It shows what we're dealing with. That (Smith's comments) doesn't matter."

Shanahan does understand the county's perspective, though, and knows that the goal is to keep people as safe as possible. The coach just would have appreciated a little more notice.

"I just like communication, that's all, and how people treat each other, most human beings," Shanahan said. "That's what we were most disappointed with, and we've got to deal with the situation just like a lot of people are dealing with stuff. Not just the Niners, all over football — I know we're the only ones who've had to move — but all over the country.

"So, everyone's got to deal with stuff. You don't want to sit here and be woe is me. There's a way to do it, and that's what we were bothered with. You adjust, you deal with what you've got to deal with, and you move on."

The 49ers have implemented their own version of a bubble in Arizona. The players aren't allowed to socialize together outside of practices. Even meetings are done virtually from their hotel rooms, and the team is doing what it can to avoid the environment outside its bubble.

"I haven't seen the guys except when we Zoom-meet them," Shanahan added, "and then when we go out to the field for walk-throughs. It's not like we're in a bubble hanging out."

The 49ers plan to spend at least three weeks, and possibly the remainder of the season, in Arizona. They will host the Buffalo Bills on Monday night at State Farm Stadium.

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