With California governor Gavin Newsom throwing water on the idea of throwing football fans into a stadium before herd immunity is achieved and/or a coronavirus vaccine is developed, the NFL may need to be ready to stage Rams, Chargers, and 49ers home games in front of no fans. Or, alternatively, to play those “home” games in stadiums where fans will be able to show up and buy tickets, parking spots, food, beer, merchandise, programs, etc., etc.
And it wouldn’t be hard to make that happen. Simple cross-referencing has identified practical temporary homes for the three California teams.
First, the 49ers could play in Arizona. Both teams have home games in Week Nine, but the 49ers play on Thursday night while the Cardinals play on Sunday. In Week 13, the Cardinals play on Sunday, but the 49ers play on Monday night. The two teams never have home games on the same day.
Second, the Chargers could play in Las Vegas — if the Raiders are willing to let the Chargers christen the stadium on the second Sunday of the season, one day before the Raiders host a Monday Night Football game there. The only glitch arises in Week 14, with both teams due to play home games the same day. But one of the games could be moved to Saturday (college football season will be over) or to Monday, creating the kind of Monday night two-pack that used to happen from time to time when teams that shared space with the local baseball club was bounced by a World Series home game.
Third, the Rams could play in Dallas. Other than Week Four, when both are due to play at home, the schedule has no conflicts. Again, one of the games could be moved to Monday night.
The league has said nothing to suggest that California teams would share stadiums elsewhere in 2020. If, however, games can’t be played at all in California or if the NFL would prefer games with customers away from L.A. or San Francisco to home games in empty venues, it won’t be hard to do. Apart from dealing with a Week Four conflict in Dallas and a Week 14 issue in Las Vegas, it will be easy to find other places for California teams to play home games away from home.