It's the question football fans and players alike can't stop asking. How will the game work amid the coronavirus pandemic?
George Kittle is wondering the same thing right now.
"At the end of the day, I think the biggest thing is social distancing and wearing a mask," Kittle said on the latest episode of The 49ers Insider Podcast. "It's hard to play football while social distancing, so I think that's what I'm really interested in seeing."
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Kittle said to NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco that he tries to stay as up to date as possible with continuous safety protocols being added ahead of the supposed upcoming season. His No. 1 goal is player safety and being smart about this. But it's not that easy.
The 49ers are set to open training camp at Levi's Stadium on July 25, and there already have been nearly 6,000 cases of the coronavirus in Santa Clara County, with 167 deaths at the time of this article's publishing. Even if the 49ers go above and beyond with safety measures, everything goes out the window once players step on the field. This is a game that's not built to deal with a virus.
"Whether your lockers are six feet apart or not, you still have to get in a huddle and I still have to block Nick Bosa and I still have block Arik Armstead in camp," Kittle said. "It's hard to social distance when you're on the line of scrimmage. That's the one thing I'm most interested in seeing how it plays out."
One unnamed 49ers player tested positive for the coronavirus on June 19 after participating in a large group workout in Nashville. This goes back to Kittle's point. If a player tested positive after a workout, what about when you're shoulder to shoulder on the sidelines, and then hitting each other and in piles of players on the field? It just doesn't make sense.
The NFL can make attempts that they care with goofy rules like eliminating jerseys swaps after games, but there are plenty of concerns on how this all will work. These questions aren't going away, and the list likely only will grow.