One aspect of the 49ers' move to Arizona that could have been overlooked, is being taken very seriously by Kyle Shanahan.
It appears as though the 49ers have seen the last of their home facility in Santa Clara for the remainder of the 2020 season.
The 49ers have had to relocate to Arizona as a result of a ban on contact sports by Santa Clara County officials. Additionally, with a required 14-day quarantine for individuals arriving to the county from 150 miles or more, players, staff and coaches returning to their homes is not feasible until restrictions are lifted, which would be Dec. 21, at the earliest.
Being away from families for several weeks, including the holidays, can take an emotional toll on players and staff, so Shanahan preemptively decided to offer extra support to his team.
Upon the team’s arrival in Arizona, Shanahan met with approximately 20 players, asking them to stay vigilant in regards to the mental health of everyone who has relocated to Arizona. He wants to ensure everyone that they have a place to go and someone to talk to if they start to feel overwhelmed.
“A lot of guys keep that stuff internally,” Shanahan said. “I met with a bunch of the players and I grabbed about 20 of them last night and just told them to look out for that stuff and make sure that whether they come to me, a position coach, we have lots of people here who aren't coaches or players who can help people.
“It's just understanding that it's human nature. Some stuff's going to come up over the next three weeks — always bring it to someone's attention because the worst thing you could be in these situations is feel kind of alone on an island and we've got a big group going through it, so we can rally together and make sure we help each other through it."
Shanahan referenced the emotional toll the NBA bubble had on its players and staff even though they had the added benefit of being able to socialize with each other.
NFL teams, because of their “soft bubble” approach are not allowed to spend time together in person, which can make their living situation even more isolating. The only time players are allowed to see each other face-to-face is on the practice field, which is held outside.
Following the 49ers’ Week 10 game in New Orleans, several players were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Shanahan cited players congregating as part of the reason and the team does not want to make that mistake again.
Shanahan and his team have a regular work week heading up to their Monday night game, which will keep everyone focused and busy. The following days and weeks where the team will have time off, will be more of a challenge in the coach’s opinion.
“It's more of the times after [games] and things I just try to stress to people is everyone's going to be at different levels and some people are going to deal with this different than others,” Shanahan said. “Those things will build up on guys and each guy will handle it differently.
“So, I just try to tell everyone, no matter what, when someone has a problem, whatever it is, there's no problem too big or too small.”