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Shanahan understands COVID precautions with 49ers despite error

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The 49ers played Thursday night without their starting wide receivers and a seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle.

And it was all just a big mistake.

When 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday morning, it set off a series of events that ended with some of the team’s top players being ineligible to play against the Green Bay Packers.

Bourne, wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, and left tackle Trent Williams were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Aiyuk, Samuel and Williams were ineligible because they had come in close contact with Bourne. (Samuel has a hamstring injury and was not going to play, anyway.)

On Friday, the 49ers received word that each of those players tested negative for a second day in a row. Bourne’s original result now is officially classified as a false positive.

Coach Kyle Shanahan, whose undermanned team was soundly beaten 34-17 by the Green Bay Packers, said on Friday he got all his frustration out of his system a day earlier.

“I dealt with the disappointment yesterday,” Shanahan said Friday morning. “Finding out that it was negative today, I was glad for Kendrick and those guys that they don’t have to worry about at least being sick right now.”


Shanahan publicly expressed understanding with the NFL’s decision to play the game as scheduled and not make any adjustments for the possibility of a false negative.

“It’s part of the protocols. It’s part of everything,” Shanahan said. “I know it’s frustrating, but it is what it is. It’s what everyone in this world’s got to deal with right now. They’re doing that for the safety.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t necessary. But I get why it happened. So (we) got to deal with it. We obviously dealt with it last night. Hopefully, we won’t have to going forward.”

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Meanwhile, the NFL and the NFL Players Association is continuing its investigation into the possibility the 49ers violated safety protocols.

“The jointly developed NFL-NFLPA protocols for when an individual tests positive were properly followed to ensure the health of the players, team personnel and the public,” the NFL said in a statement. “The league and NFLPA will continue the review.”

The 49ers' players and staff have the day off on Friday. When the club returns to work on Saturday, Bourne, Aiyuk, Samuel and Williams will be able to rejoin their teammates.

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Shanahan said he does not expect the review to lead to any violations, but he said he hopes the 49ers can learn ways they can improve the safety for players and staff members.

“I think when anything comes up, and they think people have COVID, even when it’s negative, they’ll look into it hard,” Shanahan said. “I’m glad for that. We’re doing what we think is as good as we can.

“When they look into it, I’m sure they’ll find ways we can improve. And with whatever they tell us in ways we can improve, we will ... I think we’re doing a very good job. But I’m interested and want to know how we can do better.”