SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers’ scheduled game against the New England Patriots next weekend could be in jeopardy.
The Patriots are in the thick of a COVID-19 outbreak that forced the team to cancel its practice Friday after a member of the organization tested positive for the virus. The outbreak could put in peril New England’s game against the Denver Broncos this Sunday, previously rescheduled due to four positive coronavirus tests by players, including quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore earlier this month.
With just nine days to go before the 49ers are expected to play the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., the Niners are taking a flexible approach.
“I’m always prepared to adapt to whatever the situation is,” San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan said on a call with reporters. “I’m not going to sit here and say we’re preparing every day for what’s going to happen, that we have no idea. We’re prepared that eventually we will have to adjust.”
San Francisco still has a bye Week 11, which could help the 49ers recalibrate should the schedule get complicated. The Patriots, though, burned through their bye in Week 5 when their game against Denver was moved.
As a result of the Patriots’ positive tests, the Broncos haven’t played a game since Oct. 1. Even if their rescheduled game against the Patriots goes on, they’ll have had 16 days between games, but without time off from practices, as they expected to play New England in Week 5. In late September, the Tennessee Titans had an outbreak that saw two dozen members of the organization test positive, which forced them to reschedule their game against the Buffalo Bills to the following Tuesday — it marked 15 days between games for Tennessee.
The 49ers could find themselves in a similarly uncertain situation, but their goal is to be prepared for the unknown.
“There’s not a lot of options to it. If you have to shut down, you shut down,” Shanahan said. “We’re prepared coming into the year that you have to adapt to a lot of situations you’re not sure about, and that’s the main thing you’re ready for. Don’t freak out about it and get overwhelmed with it. Expect it to happen, it’s only a matter of time before it does happen. So when it does, embrace it and do the best you can.”