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COVID roster rules from last year will return in 2021

San Francisco 49ers Off-Season Workout Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

On Thursday, the NFL sent out a memo to teams saying if they’re responsible for outbreaks due to unvaccinated players, they’d forfeit games. That was met with resistance from certain players, but that was the loud minority speaking.

Since we’re not fully out of the woods yet from COVID, the NFL made it official Friday morning to keep last year’s special COVID roster rules intact for the 2021 season. Here is another part of the memo that has sparked some discussion:

In light of the substantial roster flexibility in place for the 2021 season, absent medical considerations or government directives, games will not be postponed or rescheduled simply to avoid roster issues caused by injury or illness affecting multiple players, even within a position group.”

The special roster rules that were put in place during 2020 will remain for this season. These include modifying injured reserve rules that allowed players to return from the IR after only three weeks — previously it had been at least six weeks.

Practice squads were expanded from 12 to 16 players, and you could carry up to six players without any limits on the number of accrued seasons.

Single-game practice squad elevations is another important rule that will carryover. Before 2020, single-game practice squad elevations would prevent a player from being elevated to the active roster in two consecutive weeks or more than twice in a season. Those were modified last season due to the reserve/COVID list.

There was no real reason for the union to object as this creates more jobs and opportunities for players. Now, it’s official. This’ll help the 49ers hold onto players during the season that were in jeopoardy of being poached from their practice quad.