The San Francisco 49ers haven’t had many days with good news during the 2020 NFL season and, as they prepare to face the Los Angeles Rams in Week 12, their Saturday could at best be described as mixed.
At 4-6, the 49ers’ playoff hopes hang by a thread. Their roster has been decimated by injuries and by players being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Playing in an NFC West division where the three other teams all have winning records, the prospects of the Niners putting together a run to earn a place in the postseason look slim.
Their chances of at least keeping some hope alive by upsetting the 7-3 Rams and securing a season sweep of Los Angeles were boosted by positive news on the injury front.
Cornerback Richard Sherman, who has been out since Week 1 because of a calf injury, was activated from injured reserve along with running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. ahead of Sunday’s Week 12 clash with the Los Angeles Rams.
Left tackle Trent Williams was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list. However, that designation remains attached to promising rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk, defensive lineman D.J. Jones and edge rusher Jordan Willis, ruling that trio out for a must-win game.
The reinforcements on both sides of the ball should help the Niners against a Rams team that looked like the best in the NFC in their 27-24 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
However, even if the 49ers prevail at SoFi Stadium, they will face a huge logistical challenge in the coming weeks as they are scheduled to play back-to-back home games at a venue that the franchise is now not permitted to use.
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The Santa Clara County Public Health Department on Saturday announced revised directives to curb the spread of COVID-19 in response to surging numbers of hospitalizations. The measures — which come into force from Monday — place a temporary ban on sports at all levels that “involve physical contact or close proximity to persons outside one’s household, including all contact sports”.
The directives are set to remain in force for three weeks, a period in which the Niners have home games with the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 7 and the Washington Football Team on Dec. 13 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
Those games cannot be played at Levi’s Stadium under the revised rules, while the 49ers are also prohibited from practicing at their adjacent facility.
A statement from the 49ers read: “We are aware of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department’s emergency directive. We are working with the NFL and our partners on operational plans and will share details as they are confirmed.”
According to Matt Barrows of The Athletic, the 49ers have been exploring potential alternative venues since the Spring.
They now face the prospect of quickly settling on a new site, and that decision may be influenced by whether nearby counties mirror Santa Clara in enforcing the same directives. If not, then the RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland stands out as a leading candidate given it hosted NFL football as recently as last season.
California Memorial Stadium, which is also in Alameda County and plays host to Cal Bears home games, could be another potential alternate venue for the 49ers.
But it is another headache in a season in which the Niners have had far too many. A fourth straight win against the Rams would keep them in the playoff mix, yet, regardless of whether their 2020 campaign extends into the postseason, the 49ers are unlikely to be able to enjoy any home comforts down the stretch.
Source: Forbes – Business