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San Francisco 49ers forced to play home games in Arizona after local officials ban contact sports over COVID fears

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Hit the road

Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers announced that they will be playing their December home games in another state following local officials' declaration that contact sports are a no-no in the wake of growing COVID concerns.

What happened?

California's Santa Clara County announced strict new COVID measures Saturday, Yahoo! reported. Included in the county's orders is a ban on contact sports for the next few weeks — which was bad news for the 49ers, who play their home games not in San Francisco but at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.

The new edict sent the NFL team scrambling to find a location for upcoming December home games.

Sports Illustrated reported Monday that the the team had found a new temporary home — it's a state away and in the home stadium of their NFC West rivals, the Arizona Cardinals.

The Niners reached an agreement with the Cards to play their final 2020 home games at State Farm Stadium in Arizona. San Francisco will play host in Arizona to the Buffalo Bills for a Week 13 matchup Monday and the Washington Football Team (formerly the Redskins) in Week 14, ESPN's Adam Schefter said.

According to Schefter, Santa Clara County is "basically shutting down football" in the entire area. He noted that the decision came even as NFL officials have repeatedly said "there has been no evidence of transmission on the field of the virus."

In a statement quoted by ESPN, the 49ers said, "The Cardinals organization, State Farm Stadium and League officials have been supportive and accommodating as we work through the many logistical issues involved in relocating NFL games."

The Niners will leave San Francisco Wednesday to hold practices and games for the month of December.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury told ESPN, "As far as San Fran goes, that's obviously a challenging situation for them. I'm glad it worked out that we could host them in a way and allow them to use these facilities, and continue to keep their season going. It's kind of 2020 in a nutshell, and I'm just glad it all worked out for them."

The Santa Clara County ban on contact sports is scheduled to expire Dec. 21, but may well be extended beyond that date.

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