The 49ers quite possibly will be missing several key players tonight for no good reason.
Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area reports that the original positive test result that resulted in four players landing on the COVID-19 reserve list may have been a false positive.
‘It is looking as if . . . . Kendrick Bourne’s test from yesterday was a false positive, according to source close to him,” Maiocco said on Twitter. “He and three others who live with him have all tested negative.”
If true, it doesn’t matter. The test result was a confirmed positive (even if it’s ultimately a false positive). That knocks out Bourne and, based on contact tracing, receiver Brandon Aiyuk, receiver Deebo Samuel, and tackle Trent Williams for Thursday night’s game against the Packers. (Samuel would have separately missed the game, due to a hamstring injury.)
It’s unfortunate and unfair, but it’s one of the various potential inequities of pro football in a pandemic. As the league balances the urgency of playing all games with the importance of protecting player health and safety, some teams will end up, to use a technical term, getting screwed.
In the end, getting screwed and playing the games is better than not getting screwed — and not playing the games.
UPDATE 1:19 p.m. ET: The NFL disputes this report, insisting that Bourne generated a confirmed positive.