© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Sometimes Kyle Shanahan is measured. He can and will bite his tongue when he must. But at Shanahan’s core is a football player; a guy who grew up around the game and probably still thinks he could play today if not for a freak injury while hopping a fence.
He’s never lost the edge he’s had since he was a wide receiver at the University of Texas, and that passion extends off the field, too. That was evident Sunday night, following a walk-off 23-20 win courtesy of a 42-yard Robbie Gould field goal, but more precisely a defensive shutdown and four-turnover lambasting of Jared Goff and the Rams’ mostly hapless offense.
Normally, the 49ers would return home, take a couple of days for rest and relaxation, and with a Monday night game against the Buffalo Bills at home on the horizon, know that there’s an extra day in their back pocket.
But on Saturday, Santa Clara County announced that all contact sports, from youth to collegiate to professional, would be banned beginning Monday, November 30 through Monday, December 21.
Whiplash. The 49ers were boarding their team plane to Los Angeles, with most of team discernibly getting the news from Twitter or friends.
It’s fair to describe Shanahan as incensed, categorizing the County’s decision, without prior warning or dialogue as baffling and frustrating. He says he doesn’t know where the team will go, but that it will obviously need a practice field, a hotel and a field to play on.
“It was a very disappointing thing what we got yesterday,” Shanahan said. “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.
“I don’t think you can do possibly more than anyone in this country, all NFL teams, not just us. And we’ve been working with [the County] as a partner, just trying to figure it out, and for us to be heading out here yesterday and the relationship we have with them, for all of our players and coaches and everyone on that plane, and our wives to find that out while we’re getting on a plane, and no one to tell us, I mean it was just extremely disappointing.”
He seemed especially frustrated with the lack of communication, making a point that the team “understand[s] how big of a deal this virus is” and the need to protect the surrounding community.
But to learn that they could not longer practice or play at their home, which was already empty of fans, was something of a last straw.
“To find that out through a tweet or a press conference where I have an entire plane coming up to me, I have all wives, everyone’s girlfriends, everyone’s family members, kids, saying that what they heard there, ‘Are we gonna be gone for the entire month of December? Are we going to be quarantined for 14 days when we get back?’ I mean, that’s all we could talk about for the last 18 hours,” Shanahan said. “Because we got no answers from them, and I was just very disappointed 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 got so much appreciation for our team and those players and I’m very proud to be those guys’ coach.”
The team and County have had a tempestuous relationship since moving from Candlestick Park in South San Francisco to Santa Clara in 2013. There have been clashes over rent, and with the City of Santa Clara, who the 49ers sued after a move by the City to stop them from managing Levi’s Stadium.
For the short term, it’s clear the 49ers’ future will be elsewhere, with NBC Sports Bay Area reporting Arizona and Texas as two likely options.