The San Francisco 49ers are set to travel to Arizona Wednesday. On Tuesday, head coach Kyle Shanahan discussed the team’s travel plans, how long the 49ers would be there, whether family members would join, and much more.
Can you share with us just the plans that you have going forward and then how players have reacted to that, whether any of them have wanted to opt out or if that’s even possible?
“I didn’t talk to them about opting out because I don’t know what those choices are. I didn’t hear much about that. So, there’s not many choices. We’ve got to find a place to live and practice, so the guys have done an awesome job with just [director of team logistics Steve] Risser and [team logistics manager Mike] Slap and then [president] Al [Guido] and [general manager John] Lynch and everyone, just getting us set up in Arizona.
So, we’re going to take off tomorrow. I think we fly out around like 2:30. We’ll get there Wednesday night and then we’ll start Thursday. Since it’s a Monday night game, our Thursday we’ll just treat like a normal Wednesday. So, we should get a normal week of practice and stuff once we get there. Right now, we know the restrictions say until the 21st, so we’ve got to plan for about three weeks, at least. I’m just telling the guys and our team, just look at it one week at a time.
We’ve traveled as a team for a week before, so I’m trying to get guys not to just make all their decisions yet, which is tough with the families and everything, but hopefully we can get down there for a week and kind of figure it out, what we can do, what we can’t do, what the situation is. Then we’ll spend the next two weeks trying to adjust to make it as good as we can for whatever problems we couldn’t figure out.”
So just to confirm, you will be there multiple weeks, three weeks, at least through December 21st? Where will you guys be practicing and is there any restrictions on whether family members can come since family members can go to the games, the Arizona Cardinals home games?
“We’re practicing where the Cardinals had training camp. I believe it’s the Renaissance hotel. I’m not sure, but wherever they did training camp, that’s what our setup is. I know we’re going to be able to use the stadium here and there for some things too. So, it’s all close in proximity. That’s about all the details I know on that. I’ll figure that out when I get there, but I know we’ve got some guys out there, getting the hotels and everything mapped out for us. So, it shouldn’t be an issue. And sorry, what were the other parts of the question?”
Because the Cardinals are allowing family members-
“Oh yeah, the rules with the families, it’s just basically, we’re moving out there and our hotel will be our new Levi’s Stadium, which is where we go to work. Just like when we’re here, you go to work every day, you get tested. When we’re here, then we go straight home to our house and stay there until you come back the next day to work. Now, I look at it as our house happens to be where our work’s at.
So, when we’re done with work, guys just go upstairs to their hotel room. We can’t sit there. You don’t want to hang out and stuff. That’s how people get in trouble and that’s how it spreads. That’s what happened to us during our bye week at a hotel. So, we won’t sit there and hang out at all. We’ll work there and then the guys will go up to their hotel room. My understanding, that’s why I want to take a week to get there and just figure it out, but that’s going to be our home for a few weeks.
So, if someone’s family is down there, I don’t get why they can’t go home to their family. That will be their new house for three weeks. I don’t know how many people are doing that. It’s kind of up in limbo with how fast this has happened and stuff, so that’s why we’re going to go this week and figure out how it goes. I would be pumped if my family could end up coming down there a week or so from now and I know my kids and wife would love coming to a game.
So, if that would work out, that’d be great, but you just go there and you figure out the rules. My biggest concern that I told the players is we’re very comfortable where we’re at, just the protocols we have and stuff. And we feel like we’ve gotten pretty good at being safe and how to avoid it, but now we’re going to a new environment. It’s still the same exact rules.
I think COVID’s a little bigger there than it is here from statistics some people have told me, so we’ve got to be smart. We’re not trying to go anywhere, so I plan on guys staying in that hotel and being safe. If guys do end up getting a good setup or they have an apartment nearby where they put their family in or something, just like it is here, when you’re done with work, you can go straight home, be with your family. You get tested every day. You’ll come back the next morning and get tested at the hotel, but that’s why it’s kind of up in limbo. So, I want to take the week to figure out the parameters and then figure out what we’d recommend best for everybody who has some issues.”
Were there any scenarios that were possible for you guys to practice here and then go back and forth? And if not, what were some of the things that maybe held you back from being able to do that?
“No, I mean, the county’s rules. It’s pretty simple. Unless we can figure out how to make football not close contact, I guess. So, that’s why we can’t do anything here. There’s nothing to decide on that. Once we found that out on Saturday, I think that was pretty clear. So, we’re just trying to adjust and figure out who will let us do that and where, which I think is everywhere but here.”
Sorry, I meant in the Bay Area, generally, in like a different county in the Bay Area.
“Yeah. We looked into all that. I know our guys looked hard because that was our first goal, if we could find somewhere outside of the county within like an hour where we could drive an hour to practice, but it ended up like some of the possibilities were a couple hours and stuff. Once you do that, you don’t want to drive two hours each day. We’d be moving into a hotel and stuff two hours away and then flying to Arizona to play. So, to me it didn’t make that much of a difference.
I know that’s stuff that our guys will continue looking at for these three weeks. We’ve got to get out there and get going right now because we’ve got to get ready for a game on Monday night. I know our guys aren’t going to stop working at it. We’re not trying to stay away from everybody for three weeks and if we can come up with something different and something works out, I know we would love to adjust that and come back and do that, but nothing’s worked out yet.
So, the best scenario for us and the most convenient for us right now with the situation presented is just getting out to Arizona. There’s a good setup there and the Cardinals have been awesome with us. Everyone out there has been awesome with us and I do believe we have a really good set up there to make the best of it. That’s where we’ll play our games, too.
So, I know the longer you’re away, eventually the setup is the least important thing. I want to keep our guys right and not just our players and coaches, but it’s not just players and coaches. This is a business. There’s lots of people involved, lots of people involved. So, I know eventually people will want to come back. So, if we can figure that out, we’ll be very for it.”
You’ve done this, well, not this, but similar things as far as staying in Youngstown for a week or Florida for a week, but obviously, you had more than a couple of days preparation or advance notice, whatever. Are you expecting, I mean, who knows, right, but are you expecting maybe some bumps in the road maybe this first week, just because of the rush job?
“You never know. You always expect bumps in the road, no matter what you’re doing. The biggest bump was just the shock of finding out how long it was the day before we played. That was the biggest thing. I think our guys are pretty good and once they hear the parameters of stuff and adjusting and just dealing with whatever, especially this year. And we’re used to getting away for a week or so, but I can’t tell you how sick of each other we are after a week in a hotel.
Usually that week’s good and we play better, but then after that week, guys need to get home. So, a week’s not the daunting thing. It’s the month of December that guys get a little overwhelmed with. So that’s why I’m just trying to get guys to not think of it that way. Even though the dates say that, I’m just trying to take it one week at a time. We’re used to a week.
I know how it will feel by the end of that Monday night game and when we wake up there Tuesday, but I think guys will, each guy’s in a little different boat. Some guys don’t have family, some guys do. And I’m not just talking players and coaches, I’m talking everybody. So, there’ll be different problems with guys. I mean, some guys have pregnant wives who are due this month. How does that stuff work with being out and trying to come home? Do you have to quarantine for 14 days once that happens? Can you not see the baby?
So, there’s lots of different levels of stuff that we’ve just got to figure out and I believe we will. It’s not a whole answer for everybody, it’s about 200 different, individual cases.”